How does physical inactivity affect my health?

How does physical inactivity affect my health?

Main facts

  • A sedentary lifestyle is one of the 10 risk factors for mortality in the world.
  • A sedentary lifestyle is a major risk factor for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes.
  • Physical activity has important health benefits and helps prevent NCDs.
  • Worldwide, one in four adults lacks exercise.
  • More than 80% of teenagers do not have enough physical activity.
  • 56% of WHO Member States have policies to address physical inactivity.
  • WHO Member States have agreed to reduce sedentarity by 10% by 2025.

What is physical activity?

WHO defines physical activity as any body movement produced by the muscles that requires energy expenditure – this includes movements performed while working, playing, doing housework, moving, and during activities. Hobbies.

The term “physical activity” should not be confused with the term “exercise”, which is a subcategory of more deliberate, structured, repetitive physical activity that aims to improve or maintain a physical activity. or several aspects of fitness. Whether the level of intensity is moderate or stronger, physical activity has health benefits.

Beyond exercise, any other physical activity, whether for recreation, to move from one place to another, or as part of the professional activity, has beneficial effects on health. In addition, an additional activity of moderate or vigorous intensity can improve health.



What are the WHO recommendations for physical activity?

WHO makes the following recommendations:

Children and adolescents from 5 to 17 years old

  • should practice at least 60 minutes daily of moderate physical activity;
  • physical activity lasting more than 60 minutes a day will bring additional health benefits;
  • should include activities that strengthen muscles and bones at least three times a week.

Adults 18 to 64 years old

  • should practice at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity, or at least 75 minutes a week of intense physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate-to-high intensity physical activity;
  • to gain additional health benefits, adults should increase the amount of moderate-intensity physical activity or equivalent to 300 minutes per week;
  • muscle building activities involving major muscle groups should be performed two days a week or more.

Adults 65 years old and over

  • should practice 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week, or at least 75 minutes of high intensity physical activity per week, or an equivalent combination of moderate to high intensity physical activity;
  • for extra health benefits, they should increase the amount of moderate-intensity physical activity, or the equivalent, to 300 minutes per week;
  • persons with reduced mobility should exercise to improve their balance and prevent falls three days a week or more;
  • muscle building activities involving major muscle groups should be performed twice a week or more.

The intensity of different forms of physical activity varies from person to person. To be beneficial from a cardiorespiratory endurance point of view, all activity must be performed in increments of at least 10 minutes.

The benefits of physical activity and the risks of not exercising

Regular physical activity of moderate intensity such as walking, cycling or playing a sport is good for your health. At any age, the benefits of exercise outweigh the potential risks, such as accidents. Any physical activity is better than the total absence of exercise. One can easily reach the recommended activity levels by increasing one’s level of activity throughout the day.

Sufficient regular physical activity:

  • improves musculature and cardiorespiratory performance;
  • improves bone health and functional abilities;
  • reduces the risk of hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancers (including breast and colon) and depression;
  • reduces the risk of falling as well as fracture of the femoral neck or vertebral fracture; and
  • is fundamental for energy balance and weight control.

Lack of physical activity is one of the top 10 risk factors for global mortality and is progressing in many countries, increasing the burden of noncommunicable diseases and affecting overall health globally. People with insufficient physical activity have a risk of death increased by 20% to 30% compared to those who are sufficiently active.



Levels of insufficient physical activity

Globally, nearly 23% of adults aged 18 and over were not active enough in 2010 (men 20% and women 27%). In high-income countries, 26% of men and 35% of women had low levels of physical activity, compared to 12% of men and 24% of women in low-income countries.

The decline in physical activity is partly due to inaction during leisure and sedentary workplaces and at home. Similarly, the increased use of “passive” modes of transportation also contributes to the lack of physical exercise.

Globally, 81% of adolescents aged 11 to 17 were not active enough in 2010. Adolescent girls were less active than boys – 84% versus 78% – not meeting WHO recommendations.

Several environmental factors, linked to increasing urbanization, can discourage the practice of physical activity, namely:

  • fear of violence and criminality when practicing an outdoor activity;
  • a very dense road traffic;
  • poor air quality, pollution;
  • lack of green space, sidewalks and sports / recreation facilities.

How to increase physical activity?

Two simple ways to increase your physical activity: on the go and at home.

During your daily movements you can without too much difficulty increase your physical activity:

– take the stairs and not the elevator or escalators

– Move on foot or bike as soon as it is a short trip and especially as it is in a pleasant setting

– do your shopping on foot: go get the bread and the newspaper

– when you are in public transport (metro or bus) get off one or two stations before your final destination and finish walking

– park your car away from your appointment and finish on foot

At home it is also possible to have a physical activity without doing sports or going to a gym:

Clean, vacuum, wash the bathroom

– Garden if you can

– Wash your car there again if it’s possible

– Do muscle activities with for example dumbbells

– Cycling or rowing with devices to be installed in your home

In everyday life, it is always possible to move and this will be systematically good for your health.



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