Physical Activity Health Info - World Health Organization

The World Health Organizations (WHO) defines physical activity 

  • "any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure".
  • "Exercise" is
    • Planned
    • Structured
    • Repetitive
    • And purposeful in the sense that the improvement or maintenance of one or more components of physical fitness is the objective

WHO: 10 facts on Physical Activity:

WHO Fact 1. Physical inactivity is the 4th leading risk factor for global mortality
  • Globally, 6% of deaths are attributed to physical inactivity.
    • This follows high blood pressure (13%)
    • Tobacco use (9%)
    • And is equal to high blood glucose (6%)
  • Moreover, physical inactivity is the main cause for approximately
    • 21-25% of breast and colon cancers
    • 27% of diabetes and
    • 30% of ischemic heart disease burden
WHO Fact 2. Regular physical activity helps to maintain a healthy body
  • Physically active persons:
    • Improve their muscular and cardio-respiratory fitness;
    • Improve their bone and functional health;
    • Have lower rates of:
      • Coronary heart disease
      • High blood pressure
      • Stroke
      • Diabetes
      • Colon and breast cancer, and
      • Depression
    • Have a lower risk of falling and of hip or vertebral fractures;
    • Are more likely to maintain their weight
WHO Fact 3. Physical activity should not be mistaken for "sport"
  • Physical activity is any bodily movement produced by the skeletal muscles that uses energy.
  • This includes sports, exercise and other activities such as playing, walking, doing household chores, gardening, and dancing.
WHO Fact 4. Both moderate and vigorous intensity physical activity bring health benefits
  • Intensity refers to the rate at which the activity is being performed. It can be thought of as "how hard a person works to do the activity".
  • The intensity of different forms of physical activity varies between people.
  • Based on one-s level of fitness, it can include:
    • Brisk walking
    • Dancing or
    • Household chores
    • Examples of vigorous physical activity
    • Running
    • Fast cycling
    • Fast swimming
    • Moving heavy loads
WHO Fact 5. 5-17 year olds
  • People aged 5-17 should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily.
  • Amounts of physical activity greater than 60 minutes provide additional health benefits.
WHO Fact 6. 18-64 year olds
  • Adults aged 18-64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderately intense physical activity throughout the week
  • Or at least 75 minutes of vigorous activity throughout the week or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous activity.
  • In order to be beneficial for cardio-respiratory health, all activity should be performed in bouts of at least 10 minutes duration.
WHO Fact 7. Adults aged 65 and above
  • The main recommendations for adults and older adults are the same.
  • In addition, older adults with poor mobility should do physical activity to enhance balance and prevent falls 3 or more days per week.
  • When older adults cannot do the recommended amount of physical activity due to health conditions, they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow.
WHO Fact 8. These recommendations are relevant to all healthy adults
  • Unless specific medical conditions indicate the contrary, these recommendations apply to all people, irrespective of gender, race, ethnicity or income level.
  • They also apply to individuals with chronic non-communicable conditions, not related to mobility, such as hypertension or diabetes.
  • These recommendations can be valid for adults with disabilities as well.
WHO Fact 9. Doing some physical activity is better than doing none
  • Inactive people should start with small amounts of physical activity and gradually increase duration, frequency and intensity over time.
  • Inactive adults, older adults and those with disease limitations will have added health benefits when they become more active.
  • Pregnant, postpartum women and persons with cardiac events may need to take extra precautions. They need to seek medical advice before striving to achieve the recommended levels of physical activity.
WHO Fact 10. Supportive environments and communities may help people to be more physically active
  • Urban and environmental policies can have huge potential to increase the physical activity levels in the population.
  • Examples of these policies include ensuring that:
    • Walking, cycling and other forms of active transportation are accessible and safe for all;
    • Labor and workplace policies encourage physical activity;
    • Schools have safe spaces and facilities for students to spend their free time actively;
    • Sports and recreation facilities provide opportunities for everyone to be physically active.
    • Insufficient physical activity is a key risk factor for non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes.
    • Physical activity has significant health benefits and contributes to prevent non-communicable diseases.
    • Globally, 1 in 4 adults is not active enough.
Measures of Physical Activity
  • Resistance, Flexibility, Aerobic, Balance
  • Muscle strength
  • Aerobic Capacity
  • Balance
  • General Health
  • Vitality
  • Fatigue