WHO recommends to step up efforts to increase physical activity

Physical activities are decreasing as the human race is developing new technology. Human beings are the only animals that have a developed brain. Using this gift of nature humans are developing the technology that generates things of comfort.

In the last one and half centuries the physical activity and efforts humans need to take in day to day life are decreasing. This is causing a decreasing trend in physical activity.

 The World Health Organization has found in the South-East Asia region inefficient physical activity is as high as 75%. This problem is also seen in adolescents. This trend has caused a huge epidemic of non-communicable diseases like diabetes mellitus. So, WHO has requested countries in its South-East Asia Region to accelerate action to address insufficient physical activity. These efforts can help to reverse the physical and mental effects of non-communicable diseases. It will help to improve overall health.

The two-day regional meeting on physical activity was organized by WHO, the Thai Health Promotion Foundation and International Health Policy Programme. 

 “Physical activity helps prevent non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers, which continue to be leading killer diseases in the Region and a risk for severe disease and deaths in the ingoing COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region.

The Global Action Plan for Physical Activity (GAPPA) was launched to address the problem. The regional director had a virtual meeting of health authorities of countries involved in the above said plan. 

The Regional roadmap has been set to reduce the inefficient physical activity by 10 percent by 2025 and 15% by 2030.

Regional road map for GAPPA aims to reduce inefficient physical activity by
10%Year 2025
15%Year 2030

Non-communicable diseases are caused by multiple risk factors. Globally non-communicable diseases cause 8.5 million deaths each year.  

Percentage of people do not meet WHO recommendations for physical activity.
South East Asia regionAdolescents74%

Looking at the above chart based on data provided by WHO large percentage of people globally and in the South East Asia region has insufficient physical activity.

“Countries and communities must take action to provide everyone with more opportunities to be physically active. This requires a collective effort, both national and local, across different sectors and disciplines to implement policies and solutions appropriate to a country’s cultural and social environment to promote, enable and encourage physical activity,” Dr Khetrapal Singh said.

“While there has been progress in terms of commitments, policies and programs for promoting physical activity face many challenges including modern lifestyles, unhealthy work-life balance, lack of enabling and safe environment such as road safety and air pollution,” Dr Khetrapal Singh said.

Lockdown has added fuel to the fire of this problem and restrictions as larged has caused mental and physical health problems in the majority of the population.

“Physical activity including yoga offer a cost-effective, non-invasive means for better physical, mental health and well-being. Including physical activity into daily lifestyle activities provides multiple health benefits, promotes societal growth, and provides long-term chronic disease prevention and treatment while improving overall global health,” the Regional Director said.

It is to be noted that the Indian government has always promoted yoga and physical activities at home even in lockdown restriction. Mr Modi being a strong promoter of yoga people need to start physical activity for their own health benefit.

WHO further states promotion of physical activities needs multisectoral collaboration between ministries of health, youth, sports, education, urban planning, city administration, etc. to create an enabling and safe environment for physical activity. Morning walk can help in this regard.

Individuals, families, and communities need to incorporate physical activity including yoga or any other exercise in their daily routines, Dr Khetrapal Singh said, adding, “Together, we need to walk the talk”.

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