Nearly 500 million people worldwide will develop a chronic disease between 2020 and 2030 due to lack of exercise, the World Health Organization (WHO) expects in a new report. It can cost governments billions of dollars.
The health organisation recommends at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week for adults to prevent chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. Unfortunately, more than a quarter of the world’s population does not achieve this. In rich countries, this number is much higher than in poorer countries.
In most countries, women are less active than men. This may be due in part to cultural norms, the WHO says. In the Middle East and Southeast Asia, these differences between men and women are more significant than, for example, in Europe. Still, men are more active than women in this region. In addition to gender differences, there are also age differences: older adults generally move less than young people.
The WHO hopes governments worldwide will pay attention to the physical activity of their citizens. “The benefits are enormous, for people’s physical and mental health but also societies, environments and economies,” said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
According to the health organisation, the corona pandemic has brought government initiatives to a standstill. In addition, the crisis has made some types of physical activity inaccessible to specific communities, such as gyms for poorer people. At the same time, the pandemic also showed how important exercise was for health, the WHO says.