10 facts on physical activity

Reviewed February 2017

A lack of physical activity is a significant risk factor for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as stroke, diabetes, and cancer. Less and less physical activity is occurring in many countries. Globally, 23% of adults and 81% school-going adolescents are not active enough.

Getting people to move more is a key strategy for reducing the burden of NCDs, as articulated in WHO's Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs 2013-2020. The plan calls for a 10% reduction in physical inactivity by 2025, which contributes to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

WHO provides recommendations for the minimum amounts of activity for all age groups for improved health, but it is important to know that doing some physical activity is better than doing none. Inactive people should start with small amounts of physical activity, as part of their daily routine, and gradually increase duration, frequency, and intensity over time. Countries and communities must also take action to provide individuals with more opportunities to be active.


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