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WHO: increasing exercise levels globally would prevent 5 million deaths and save US$68bn each year

By Tom Walker    08 Dec 2020
Increasing exercise levels globally would save US$54bn in direct health care and another US$14bn in increased productivity / Shutterstock.com/ Africa Studio

Increasing physical activity globally could prevent up to 5 million deaths each year, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

WHO statistics show that one in four adults, and four out of five adolescents, do not get enough physical activity.

The organisation estimates that, each year, physical inactivity costs more than US$54bn in direct health care and another US$14bn in lost productivity.

“Being physically active is critical for health and well-being – it can help to add years to life and life to years,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“Every move counts, especially now as we manage the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic. We must all move every day – safely and creatively.”

Ghebreyesus was speaking at the launch of the new WHO Guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behaviour, which emphasize that everyone, of all ages and abilities, can be physically active and that "every type of movement counts".

The new guidelines recommend at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity per week for all adults, including people living with chronic conditions or disability, and an average of 60 minutes per day for children and adolescents.

“These new guidelines highlight how important being active is for our hearts, bodies and minds, and how the favourable outcomes benefit everyone, of all ages and abilities”, said Dr Fiona Bull, Head of the Physical Activity Unit which led the development of the new WHO guidelines.

Dr Ruediger Krech, WHO's director of health promotion, added: “Physical activity of any type, and any duration can improve health and wellbeing, but more is always better.

“And if you must spend a lot of time sitting still, whether at work or school, you should do more physical activity to counter the harmful effects of sedentary behaviour.”

• The publication of the new guidelines follows on from the WHO Global action plan on physical activity 2018-2030. The plan was agreed by global health leaders at the 71st World Health Assembly in 2018 to reduce physical inactivity by 15 per cent by 2030.

To download the

new guidelines, click here.

physical activity  World Health Organisation  WHO  fitness  exercise 
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