It's well recognised that physical activity is a key step in maintaining good health and reducing personal health risks.
Physical activity is often referred to as one of the four "pillars of health" (the others being nutrition, sleep and managing pressure). The World Health Organisation (WHO) has just published a raft of evidence outlining the type, frequency and duration of physical activity levels suggested to help avoid serious health problems.
Physical inactivity is viewed by the WHO as the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality, causing 6% of deaths globally. This follows high blood pressure (13%), tobacco use (9%) and high blood glucose (6%). (Source: Global health risks: mortality and burden of disease attributable to selected major risks. World Health Organization, Geneva, 2009.)
Sedentary lifestyles are also estimated to be the principal cause for up to 25% of breast and colon cancer burden in health systems, 27% of diabetes and approximately 30% of ischaemic heart disease. In addition, the WHO also claim non-communicable diseases now account for nearly half of the overall global burden of disease. The WHO also estimate that of every 10 deaths worldwide, 6 are attributable to non-communicable conditions. (Sources: The global burden of disease: 2004 update. World Health Organization, Geneva, 2008.)
In a first step towards planning to reduce the health risks associated with inactivity, the WHO has just published "Global Recommendations on Physical Activity for Health", with the aim of providing national policy makers with guidance on the dose-response relationship between the frequency, duration, intensity, type and total amount of physical activity needed for the prevention of non-communicable diseases.