What you need to know about physical activity

Try to devote at least 30 to 60 minutes each day to physical activity. The duration of physical activity can be divided into shorter periods, but not less than 10 minutes each. Short-term activities can also significantly improve your health, such as using stairs in your daily routine, taking a quick step or cycling.

Regular physical activity can help prevent or reduce obesity and maintain optimal body weight; improve psychological well-being, prevent stress, depression; gain self-confidence, get a sense of success; promoting social inclusion.

1. Physical activity is the active movement of the body through the musculoskeletal system, which significantly increases energy consumption compared to a resting state. Physical activity or lack thereof can be classified according to the intensity of the activity or energy consumption.

Most people are probably convinced that moderate physical activity is the most effective way to improve their health. Moderate-intensity physical activity is a type of activity that speeds up the heart, produces a feeling of warmth and mild shortness of breath. The main health-promoting physical activities are simple and familiar activities such as walking, cycling, physical work, swimming, housework, hiking, gardening, recreational sports, and dancing.

2. It is essential for the health and self-development of the person, regardless of sex, functional ability, culture, age or socioeconomic status, to enjoy quality rest.

This is particularly important for children and young people, especially those from poor families, as well as people from lower socio-economic groups who have less leisure time and less access to recreational facilities. They often live in urban areas with low road safety, high traffic speeds, and few green spaces. These factors further reduce the chances of being physically active every day.

The main obstacles to people being physically active are cost, lack of awareness, distance travel, cultural and linguistic barriers, difficulty in accessing local recreation centers and safe playgrounds. Inequalities between countries have been observed to increase.

3. Epidemiological studies have shown that a lack of physical activity increases the risk of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, breast cancer by 15-20% and promotes hip fractures in the elderly.

Regular physical activity can help prevent and reduce obesity and maintain optimal body weight. They can also improve psychological well-being and reduce stress and anxiety, depression and loneliness. Various games, sports and other forms of physical activity give young people the opportunity to prove themselves and gain self-confidence, to get a sense of success and to integrate socially into a group. Physical activity helps prevent and control risky behaviors such as smoking, alcohol and other addictive substances, unhealthy eating and violence, especially among children and adolescents.

4. Despite the fact that physical activity improves health, most people are not active enough in their daily lives.

Almost two-thirds of adults are not physically active enough and activity levels continue to decline. Children are becoming increasingly sedentary throughout the world, especially in poor neighborhoods. Time and resources devoted to physical education are decreasing and physical games and entertainment are being replaced by computer games and television.

On average, only 34% of adolescents aged 11, 13 and 15 are physically active at levels that are consistent with current recommendations. In most countries, boys are more active than girls, but over the years, physical activity levels for both genders decline. Lack of physical activity in childhood can affect lifelong health.

5. Lack of physical activity is recognized as one of the major independent risk factors for the development of chronic non-communicable diseases, which causes about 3.5% of various types of illness and up to 10% of deaths.

Also worrying is the high economic price to pay as a result of a lack of physical activity. Increasing the level of physical activity would improve public health as well as reduce the costs of lack of physical activity.

6. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that adults perform moderate and intense physical activity for 30 minutes or more on most days of the week, preferably daily.

This recommended activity duration can be divided into shorter periods, preferably not less than 10 minutes, but even short-term physical activities can significantly improve health, such as using stairs instead of lifts. Children should be physically active for at least 60 minutes a day. Exercise at least twice a week will improve and maintain muscle strength, flexibility, and strengthen bones.

7. The environment in which people live - home, school, work, traveling, etc. - often do not create a desire to be physically active.

50% of car trips are less than 5km; it is a distance that can be covered in 15-20 minutes by bicycle or in 30-50 minutes in a fast step. Physical activity needs to be incorporated into everyday life in a way that is easy, natural and desirable. School and workplace programs should allow all citizens to have access to, and access to, physical activity, such as physical activity. If we want it to affect society as a whole, it is important to apply this principle and create a physical and social environment that enhances people's physical activity.

8. Regular moderate-intensity physical activity is a cost-effective means of improving and maintaining public health.

Promoting physical activity should thus be one of the public health priorities, involving all sections of society. However, responsibility for action in this area should not be limited to the health, sports, tourism, employment, and education sectors. It should be a common task in which several sectors, such as transport, urban planning, and the environment, are involved. In addition, the media is a very powerful way of promoting a healthy lifestyle.

Working together from both the public and the private sector would contribute to more efficient operations and thus lead to a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. All stakeholders benefit from working together. In addition, specific activities should be supported, from the local community and governmental levels to the international level. It is important that the development of cooperation strategies and capacities at the regional and local levels is included in public policy planning, as local initiatives have a greater potential to promote physical activity.

9. Public health policy programs to promote physical activity should be planned in the long term with clear and measurable objectives and indicators.

Given the ongoing concern about the decline in physical activity levels, it is essential to monitor the level of physical activity in the community using standardized protocols. There are a number of important principles that should guide you when developing strategies to promote physical activity, such as:

the definition of physical activity is not limited to sport and physical education;

many sectors need to be involved in implementing the strategy;

the environment should encourage physical activity;

have equal access to physical activity;

programs should be based on societal needs.

Source: WHO