Let’s get physical: WHO launches Global Action Plan on Physical Activity

News /

Share this

Let’s get physical: WHO launches Global Action Plan on Physical Activity.
The Heart Foundation has welcomed the World Health Organization’s (WHO) launch overnight of its first Global Action Plan for Physical Activity 2018-2030, which aims to increase participation in physical activity by people of all ages and abilities across the world.

Heart Foundation spokesperson for physical activity Adjunct Professor Trevor Shilton, a contributor to the plan said: “The plan's goal is a 15 per cent reduction in the global prevalence of physical inactivity in adults and in adolescents by 2030. This should strengthen Australia’s resolve to address its own physical activity problem with more than half of all Australian adults not meeting WHO Guidelines.

“Being active is a major tonic to help prevent and manage heart disease and other forms of chronic disease, which are responsible for the majority of deaths in Australia and around the world.”

Australia is already experiencing the consequences of inactivity, which causes 10-20 per cent of the disease burden in Australia, and 11 per cent of heart disease. Being inactive increases the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes by 25-30%, and shortens lifespan by 2-5 years.

The plan provides countries with a list of policy actions to address the multiple cultural, environmental and individual causes of physical inactivity, with actions connected to four objectives focusing on creating active societies, environments, people and systems.

In Australia and across the world, the more socially advantaged you are, the more likely you are to be physically active.

“There are groups of people in Australia who are not given a fair go at living a healthy and active life, and there is a desperate need to bridge this gap,” Prof Shilton said.

“We know that girls, women, older adults, Indigenous peoples, people experiencing socioeconomic disadvantage, and those people with disabilities and chronic diseases are often less active and have fewer opportunities to be active.

“This plan aims to address these inequities by providing a roadmap to support greater participation in physical activity at a local community level and at an individual level – providing everyone with the chance to be physically active in their daily lives.”

Among the many recommendations of the plan are to enhance physical education and school-based programs, integrate transport and urban planning policies and improve walking and cycling networks.

“In accord with the Global Action Plan, the Heart Foundation addresses physical inactivity through a combination of program, policy and educational initiatives including the Heart Foundation Walking program, the Healthy Active by Design initiative and the Australian Physical Activity Network.”

The estimated cost of being inactive in Australia is $805 million each year, with much of the costs relating to healthcare spending ($640 million). The cost of physical inactivity to households is $124 million each year, due to diseases related to lack of exercise.

The most recent data available on physical activity in adults and children show that 52% of Australian adults and 80% of Australian children and young people aged 5-17 years are not active enough for health benefits.   

The Global Action Plan on Physical Activity was endorsed by Member States, including Australia, on 23 May at the recent World Health Assembly in Geneva. Prof Shilton said: “All governments need to respond to this global initiative by developing and funding their own comprehensive National Action Plans on physical activity.”

The Heart Foundation has launched a new resource, I Can Be Active Today, which provides tips and resources on how to live a more active life.