The Alliance for Health Promotion’s response to the worldwide trend on physical activity report by WHO 

Geneva, Switzerland, September 4, 2018

The World Health Organization (WHO) has published worldwide physical activity trends in the Lancet Global Health today showing a lack of progress made in physical activity levels since 2001. If such trends continue, the 2025 global physical activity target of 10% relative reduction in insufficient physical activity will not be achieved. More than 1.4 billion adults worldwide are at risk of developing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) as a result of physical inactivity.

The message is loud and clear; there needs to a substantial increase at the country-level to scale-up implementation of effective policies. Policies to increase population levels of physical activity need to be prioritised and scaled up urgently.

Community-based campaigns to enhance awareness and understanding of the physical activity benefits (social, economic, and environmental) is one of the 20 policies outlined in WHO’s Global Action Plan on Physical Activity 2018–2030[1]. The Alliance for Health Promotion (A4HP) considers social mobilization by way of community-based campaigns to be an effective strategy to encourage healthy behaviour by enhancing awareness of benefits of physical activity. Each year since 2015, A4HP uses the yearly Health Promotion Day to bring local together with global to raise awareness of health promotion. The Health Promotion Day was organised in collaboration with WHO this year, during the 71st World Health Assembly (WHA), to encourage participation in the Walk the Talk: The Health for All Challenge from WHA delegates, the UN family and the Geneva community.

Health literacy also has an impact of physical activity levels. Although low health literacy is often associated with a lower level of education, according to this study higher income countries have shown the least progress made in physical activity levels. Economic development and urbanization have no doubt impacted physical activity levels but with adequate health knowledge, skills and information, that is increased health literacy, everyone has the opportunity to improve their health.

In collaboration with its members, the Alliance for Health Promotion will continue its work of creating active communities and empowering individuals to improve their health knowledge and skills.

[1] WHO. Global action plan on physical activity 2018–2030. More active people for a healthier world. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2018.