Physical activity to stay healthy
Adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or at least 75 minutes of vigorous activity or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous activity. More activity may be required for weight control. Children need at least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous intensity physical activity each day. Vigorous-intensity activities should be incorporated, including those that strengthen muscle and bone, at least 3 times per week.
Strong evidence shows that physical activity has a wide range of beneficial effects for both physical and mental well-being: cutting by about 25% the risk of many disorders related to inactivity (such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes), substantially reducing the risk of hypertension and some forms of cancer, and decreasing stress, anxiety, depression and possibly delaying the effects of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.
Regular physical activity also helps maintain a healthy body weight. In combination with an appropriate diet, it can help to reduce weight.
The action needed
To reverse the current trend towards inactivity, countries across the WHO European Region will need to create conditions for people to make physical activity part of their everyday lives. Action should be large scale, coherent and consistent across different levels of government and different sectors, based on the following key principles:
- promote a life-course and whole-of-society approach;
- provide safe and attractive environments to encourage active transport and physical activity in daily life;
- promote integrated, multisectoral and partnership-based approaches;
- use evidence-based strategies to promote physical activity and monitor ongoing implementation and impact;
- maximize the potential to promote physical activity in healthcare settings such as primary care; and
- ensure opportunities for social physical activity among older people in order to maintain functional capacity and reduce the onset of chronic disease.