More progress needed to improve global physical activity, experts say

W

orldwide progress to improve physical activity has stalled, and overall deaths associated with inactivity remain at more than five million people per year, a new study suggests.

Researchers also found that the Olympics remain a missed opportunity to increase physical activity in host countries.

They argue that physical activity public health initiatives should be incorporated into Olympic and mass sporting event planning.

It comes as the Tokyo 2020 Olympics are due to get under way later this week.

The Olympics and other mass sporting events are a missed opportunity to change health and physical activity at the population level not only in the host city or country but around the world

According to the study, no progress has been made to improve adolescent physical activity since 2012, with 80% still not meeting World Health Organisation activity guidelines.

People living with disabilities (PLWD) are 16-62% less likely to meet physical activity guidelines and policymakers should do more to advance their rights to participate in physical activity, the researchers say.

They add that during coronavirus lockdowns exercise was considered by many governments as an essential activity.

However, daily physical activity must be promoted as an essential human need beyond and independent of Covid-19, the experts argue.

Physical inactivity is linked to an increased risk of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.

The Olympic Rings (Adam Davy/PA) / PA Wire

They are estimated to cost at least 54 billion dollars (£39 billion) per year in direct health care costs of which 31 billion dollars (£22 billion) is paid by the public sector.

The findings suggest the slow progress to improve physical activity worldwide has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, with lockdowns likely associated with overall less physical activity worldwide.

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