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World Health Organisation Releases New Physical Activity Guidelines to Combat Physical Inactivity Epidemic

by Melanie Peterson

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recently released new physical activity guidelines in an effort to tackle problems of widespread physical inactivity around the world. Published to the WHO website, the guidelines outline ideal physical activity levels for individuals of all age groups – from newborn children to older individuals over 65 years old and pregnant women.

The physical activity guidelines come at a time when physical activity is at an all time low, where according to the WHO, one in four adults do not meet the recommended levels of physical activity. The lack of physical activity has become a major health burden due to it causing the development of chronic diseases and other serious health related conditions (such as coronary heart disease and colon cancer) around the world.

In an attempt to reduce the development of health conditions associated with physical inactivity, the WHO’s new physical activity guidelines aim to help members of the global population become more aware of their ideal physical activity levels.

The WHO’s physical activity recommendations outline how intense physical activity should be according to different age groups, the rate at which physical activity should be performed, as well as details limitations towards sedentary behaviour. 

For example, the WHO recommends adults aged between 18 to 64 years to ‘do at least 150 to 300 minutes of modern-intensity aerobic physical activity’, while children and adolescents aged 5 to 17 years should ‘do at least an average of 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity, mostly aerobic.

The WHO’s physical activity guidelines are recommended to help improve adults’ risk of cardiovascular disease mortality, prevention of falls, incident site-specific cancers, mental health, cognitive health as well as sleep. 

The guidelines are part of the WHO’s new Global Action Plan on Physical Activity 2018-2030, targeting the problem of lack of physical activity, occurring since 2001. The global action plan proposes policy options to countries around the world to help them adapt the new physical activity guidelines into their local culture and contexts. The WHO’s global action plan works in collaboration with other UN agencies to promote Sport for Development and Peace.

The WHO recommends countries to incorporate the physical activity guidelines into their national health care advice, and to adopt a ‘whole-of-system’ response involving taking action at global, regional and local levels. 

The WHO’s physical activity guidelines aim to reduce physical activity around the world by 15% by 2030, and align with global Sustainable Development Goals. As a result, it is important that health officials and practising professionals (including complementary and alternative medicine practitioners such as chiropractors) around the world become aware of the WHO’s goals and encourage general members of the population to adopt the physical activity guidelines.

Individuals should also be considerate with their physical limits when excising, in order to not over do themselves sporting braces such as a sporting knee brace or back support braces can help ensure injuries are less likely and physical activity can be a long lasting activity.

The physical activity guidelines can be found on the WHO’s website in more detail for health professionals to develop a deeper understanding of the recommendations, and for individuals to refer to their recommended physical activity levels by age group.

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