No 86 Olympian efforts needed to increase physical activity – a global challenge

Dr Adrian Davis

Physical inactivity is pandemic, a leading cause of death in the world, and clearly one of the top four pillars of a non-communicable disease strategy. However, the role of physical activity continues to be undervalued despite evidence of its protective effects and the cost burden posed by present levels of physical inactivity globally. There is an urgent need to build global capacity. Although progress has been made in policy and planning, leadership and advocacy, workforce training, and surveillance, much needs to be done to fully address this global issue.

Advancement of global capacity needs intersectoral collaboration, improved understanding of what works, particularly in countries with low and middle incomes, comprehensive monitoring to assess progress in implementation of policies and action plans, and momentum in development of a highly skilled workforce in physical activity and public health. New partners, an expanded leadership base, resources at the country and local level, and expanded infrastructure are crucially needed to advance physical activity as a public health issue. Furthermore, a systems-based approach is needed to address the complex interactions between the various conditions that promote or impede population levels of physical activity. Understanding and application of complex systems to affect physical activity will allow infrastructure changes that will give individuals and populations the freedom to be more physically active and healthy.

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