Design cities to encourage physical activity

| Updated on June 08, 2018

“Being active is critical for health. But in our modern world, this is becoming more and more of a challenge, largely because our cities and communities aren’t designed in the right ways,” the World Health Organisation’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said recently while launching an action plan on physical activity and health (2018-2030).

Fewer opportunities

Worldwide, one in five adults, and four out of five adolescents (11-17 years), do not do enough physical activity.

Girls, women, older adults, poorer people, people with disabilities and chronic diseases, marginalised populations, and indigenous people have fewer opportunities to be active.

Regular physical activity is key to preventing and treating non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and breast and colon cancer.

NCDs are responsible for 71 per cent of all deaths globally, including the death of 15 million people per year aged 30 to 70. The action plan shows how countries can reduce physical inactivity in adults and adolescents by 15 per cent by 2030.

It recommends a set of 20 policy areas which, combined, aim to create more active societies through improving the environment and opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to do more walking, cycling, sport, active recreation, dance and play.

Keep it simple

Tedros added: “You don’t need to be a professional athlete to choose to be active. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator makes a difference. Or walking or using the bike instead of driving to your neighbourhood bakery. It’s the choices we make each and every day that can keep us healthy. Leaders must help make these choices the easy ones."

Physical inactivity is estimated to cost $54 billion in direct healthcare, of which 57 per cent is incurred by the public sector and an additional $14 billion is attributable to lost productivity.

Published on June 08, 2018

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