Although most people know that being physically active improves health dramatically, levels of physical activity are far too low. This leads to an increased risk of a range of conditions and diseases, such as overweight and obesity, ischaemic heart disease, strokes, diabetes and some types of cancer, notably breast and colon cancer. The World Health Organisation recommends 60 minutes of physical activity a day and recognises that sectors outside the health sector have to be involved if physical activity is to become an integral part of Europeans’ lives.
Switzerland already has experience of involving different sectors to promote physical activity, having identified that up to 60% of a person’s health is determined by factors outside the health sector. They have focused on specific cooperative projects with other federal agencies in order to create opportunities to promote physical activity in urban and regional planning. One example is a project which promotes social diversity and the effective use of public and semi-private open space, using inter-communal planning processes and construction quality standards, offering incentives to stakeholders such as real-estate owners.
The World Health Organization has defined nine voluntary global targets that address key non-communicable disease risk factors, including tobacco use, salt intake, physical inactivity, high blood pressure and the harmful use of alcohol. The target for physical activity is a 10% relative reduction in the prevalence of insufficient physical activity by 2025.
To read more about the Global Status Report on Non-communicable Diseases 2014, go to www.who.int