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The lack of physical activity across the globe is a ´pandemic´, according to medical journal The Lancet

The lack of physical activity across the globe is a ´pandemic´, according to medical journal The Lancet © Cheryl Empey |

A report recently published in The Lancet describes physical inactivity as a "pandemic" and calls for steps to be taken worldwide. The paper, published in July, points out that physical inactivity is the fourth leading cause of mortality across the globe, responsible for 5.3 million deaths, as many as smoking.

The authors of “The pandemic of physical inactivity: global action for public health” recommend “creative thinking coupled with development of partnerships for action” in order to help physical activity and healthy ageing to become a public priority. Among other recommendations, medical researchers urge ministries and policy-makers to:

  • Make physical activity an integral part of an overall disease prevention and health promotion model, including screening for physical inactivity
  • Develop and implement sport and recreation policy and funding systems that prioritise increased community access to affordable physical activity opportunities
  • Develop programmes adapted to the needs of particular segments of the community that are less active than others
  • Support and implement urban and rural planning policies, design guidelines and building codes that support walking, cycling, public transport, sport, and recreation with a particular focus on equitable access and safety

Individuals and organisations in civil society are also asked to “seek ways to become and remain physically active at levels recommended for the preservation and promotion of health and wellbeing”.

The promotion of physical activity for older people is one of the main goals of the European Year 2012. Stakeholders at all levels are being encouraged by the European Commission to develop and share innovative solutions, policies and long-term strategies to tackle the challenges of an ageing population and enable EU citizens to lead healthy, active and independent lives while becoming old.