The key health challenge of encouraging people around the world to be more active could be addressed with a series of ideas outlined in a new report.
More space to exercise, less reliance on cars and better support from healthcare services are all highlighted in the plan, which was presented at a World Health Organization event this weekend.
The study, by researchers at the University of Edinburgh and the International Society for Physical Activity for Health, identifies seven areas that require investment by governments and communities in order to improve levels of physical activity.
The findings could help policy makers meet WHO targets to reduce inactivity levels around the world by 10 per cent by 2025.
Greater availability of physical activity space is cited in the strategy as a key driver for global health improvement.
The plan, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, also underlines the importance of adapting transport structures to support the WHO targets. It calls on local and national authorities to prioritise walking, cycling and public transport.
Researchers also claim that physical activity advice should be more freely available from national healthcare services.
The plan identifies areas of investment that could increase levels of physical activity when applied at local, national and international levels.
These include support for programmes that promote sport for all and encourage participation across age-groups and effective communication of key messages.
Researchers assert that if the health of nations is to improve and levels of physical activity are to rise, then greater investment is needed in these areas.
Dr Andrew Murray from Edinburgh’s Physical Activity for Health Research Centre and past Scottish Clinical Leadership Fellow at the College said: "Physical inactivity may well be the fundamental public health challenge of our age. Despite compelling evidence on the health benefits of physical activity, the combination of increasing mechanisation, digitisation, and urbanisation continues to inexorably squeeze essential physical activity out of our daily lives."
"Our study distils the key messages and expert advice into bite-size chunks that will help people and policy makers get more people more active, more often. This will contribute to increased longevity and better health that regular physical activity brings.”
The seven-point plan was presented at the sixth International Congress on Physical Activity and Public Health in Bangkok. The event is co-hosted by the World Health Organization and the International Society for Physical Activity and Health.
Co-author of the study and President of the ISPAH, Prof Fiona Bull said: "The infographic published with the report presents an easy at-a-glance outline of the seven areas in which governments should be focusing their efforts and investment to increase physical activity. Too many national plans are sitting on shelves and are not being funded. It is time to take the global issue of physical inactivity much more seriously."
The plan builds upon the ISPAH 2010 Toronto Charter for Physical Activity, which calls for all countries, regions and communities to strive for greater political and social commitment to support physical activity for all.
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