Key facts from WHO (World Health Organization)
- Insufficient physical activity is one of the leading risk factors for death worldwide.
- Insufficient physical activity is a key risk factor for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes.
- Physical activity has significant health benefits and contributes to prevent NCDs.
- Globally, 1 in 4 adults is not active enough.
- More than 80% of the world's adolescent population is insufficiently physically active.
- Policies to address insufficient physical activity are operational in 56% of WHO Member States.
- WHO Member States have agreed to reduce insufficient physical activity by 10% by 2025.
What is physical activity?
WHO defines physical activity as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure – including activities undertaken while working, playing, carrying out household chores, travelling, and engaging in recreational pursuits.
The term "physical activity" should not be confused with "exercise", which is a subcategory of physical activity that is planned, structured, repetitive, and aims to improve or maintain one or more components of physical fitness. Beyond exercise, any other physical activity that is done during leisure time, for transport to get to and from places, or as part of a person’s work, has a health benefit. Further, both moderate- and vigorous-intensity physical activity improve health.
How much of physical activity is recommended?
Children and adolescents aged 5-17years
- Should do at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily.
- Physical activity of amounts greater than 60 minutes daily will provide additional health benefits.
- Should include activities that strengthen muscle and bone, at least 3 times per week.
Adults aged 18–64 years
- Should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity throughout the week, or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity throughout the week, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.
- For additional health benefits, adults should increase their moderate-intensity physical activity to 300 minutes per week, or equivalent.
- Muscle-strengthening activities should be done involving major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week.
Adults aged 65 years and above
- Should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity throughout the week, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity throughout the week, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.
- For additional health benefits, they should increase moderate-intensity physical activity to 300 minutes per week, or equivalent.
- Those with poor mobility should perform physical activity to enhance balance and prevent falls, 3 or more days per week.
- Muscle-strengthening activities should be done involving major muscle groups, 2 or more days a week.
The intensity of different forms of physical activity varies between people. In order to be beneficial for cardiorespiratory health, all activity should be performed in bouts of at least 10 minutes duration.