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WHO guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behaviour

WHO guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behaviour

The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched new guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behaviour.

These guidelines, launched in November 2020, provide evidence-based public health recommendations for children, adolescents, adults and older adults on the amount of physical activity (frequency, intensity and duration) required to offer significant health benefits and mitigate health risks. For the first time, recommendations are provided on the associations between sedentary behaviour and health outcomes, as well as for subpopulations, such as pregnant and postpartum women, and people living with chronic conditions or disability.

The guidelines are intended for policy-makers in ministries of health, education, youth, sport and/or social or family welfare; government officials responsible for developing national, sub regional or municipal plans to increase physical activity and reduce sedentary behaviour in population groups through guidance documents; people working in nongovernmental organizations, the education sector, private sector, research; and healthcare providers.

The final public health recommendations presented are for all populations and age groups ranging from 5 years to 65 years and older, irrespective of gender, cultural background or socioeconomic status, and are relevant for people of all abilities.

Despite the large quantity of supporting data relating physical activity and, increasingly, sedentary behaviours to health outcomes across the life-span, important evidence gaps remain. In particular, there is less evidence from low- and middle-income countries and economically disadvantaged or underserved communities, and a dearth of evidence from subpopulations including people living with disabilities.

Investment in more research is needed to build evidence particularly in these areas. In addition, the changes introduced to these recommendations will have some implications for surveillance systems and assessment instruments currently used to monitor national levels of physical activity. Existing global and national instruments should be reviewed, and reporting protocols updated, to inform future reporting against the new guidelines.

The Global action plan on physical activity 2018–2030 set a target to reduce physical inactivity by 15% by 2030, and outlined 20 recommended policy actions and interventions. These guidelines support all countries to implement the GAPPA recommendations.

WHO has also prepared a number of toolkits to accompany these guidelines, to support the adoption, dissemination, communication campaigns and implementation of these guidelines. These supporting resources are available through the WHO website.

  • Find the guidelines here


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Monday, February 22, 2021 - 10:45

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