Benefits of regular physical activity

Regular physical activity – such as walking, cycling, or dancing – has significant benefits for health. For instance, it can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and osteoporosis, help control weight, and promote mental well-being.

Taking part in physical activity increases opportunities for socialization, networking and cultural identity. Physical activity has a positive influence on the community and society by promoting social interaction and cohesion.

Especially among children and young people, sports and other physical activities contribute to empowerment and self-confidence. Physical activity furthermore helps to prevent and control risk behaviour, such as the use of tobacco, alcohol and other substances, unhealthy diet and violence.

The promotion of physical activity also has a positive impact on the environment. For instance, promoting walking and cycling over the use of motorized transport reduces traffic congestion, air and noise pollution and the consumption of fossil fuels.

Regular physical activity may also benefit communities and economies through increased productivity in the workplace; lower worker absenteeism and turnover; and better performance in schools. In many countries a significant proportion of  health spending is due to the costs of managing common noncommunicable diseases that are associated with inadequate physical activity. Promoting physical activity can be a highly cost-effective and sustainable public health intervention.

Active living benefits health at all ages. It is especially important to the healthy development of children and young people, and active ageing can make a dramatic difference to the well-being of older people.

Having the opportunity to enjoy quality recreation is vital to the health and personal development of all individuals, regardless of gender, functional ability, cultural background, age or socioeconomic status.