Up to 5 million deaths a year could be averted if the global population was more active. At a time when many people are home bound due to COVID-19, new WHO Guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behaviour, launched today, emphasize that everyone, of all ages and abilities, can be physically active and that every type of movement counts.
The new guidelines recommend at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity per week for all adults, including people living with chronic conditions or disability, and an average of 60 minutes per day for children and adolescents.
WHO statistics show that one in four adults, and four out of five adolescents, do not get enough physical activity. Globally this is estimated to cost US$54 billion in direct health care and another US$14 billion to lost productivity.
The guidelines encourage women to maintain regular physical activity throughout pregnancy and post-delivery. They also highlight the valuable health benefits of physical activity for people living with disabilities.
Older adults (aged 65 years or older) are advised to add activities which emphasize balance and coordination, as well as muscle strengthening, to help prevent falls and improve health.
Regular physical activity is key to preventing and helping to manage heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and cancer, as well as reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety, reducing cognitive decline, improving memory and boosting brain health.
“Being physically active is critical for health and well-being – it can help to add years to life and life to years,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Every move counts, especially now as we manage the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic. We must all move every day – safely and creatively.”
All physical activity is beneficial and can be done as part of work, sport and leisure or transport (walking, wheeling and cycling), but also through dance, play and everyday household tasks, like gardening and cleaning.
“Physical activity of any type, and any duration can improve health and wellbeing, but more is always better,” said Dr Ruediger Krech, Director of Health Promotion, World Health Organization, “and if you must spend a lot of time sitting still, whether at work or school, you should do more physical activity to counter the harmful effects of sedentary behaviour.”
“These new guidelines highlight how important being active is for our hearts, bodies and minds, and how the favourable outcomes benefit everyone, of all ages and abilities”, said Dr Fiona Bull, Head of the Physical Activity Unit which led the development of the new WHO guidelines.
WHO encourages countries to adopt the global guidelines to develop national health policies in support of the WHO Global action plan on physical activity 2018-2030. The plan was agreed by global health leaders at the 71st World Health Assembly in 2018 to reduce physical inactivity by 15% by 2030.
This is an update of the August 2019 information brief on WHO’s revision of the two following guidelines:
- Ensuring balance in national policies on controlled substances: Guidance for availability and accessibility of controlled medicines (2011)
- WHO guidelines on the pharmacological treatment of persisting pain in children with medical illnesses (2012)
Maternal Newborn Child and Adolescent Health and Ageing
Planning WHO GRC planning approval received March 2020 January 2020 Scope The proposed scope for this guideline has been developed and is available here.
The proposed scope for this guideline was developed following the public hearing in which stakeholders expressed their views.
The proposed scope for this guideline has been developed and is available at the following link:
WHO Guideline for the management of chronic pain in children
Public hearing A public hearing regarding the scope of the guideline took place on 19 February 2020. The written statements submitted on the guideline have been consolidated and can be found here. A public hearing in relation to the scope of the guideline for the management of chronic pain in children was held on 16th January 2020. Views were expressed on the proposed scope by 49 different stakeholders across the different WHO regions. These included academic groups, NGOs, practitioners and patient representatives. Appointment of GDG The list of Guideline Development Group members has been confirmed and is available here.
Public comments on the proposed list were accepted until 9th February 2020. The list of Guideline Development Group members for the guideline for the management of chronic pain in children is available here.
Public comments on the proposed list were accepted until 14 January 2020.
Planning- initial GDG meeting The first GDG meeting was held in June 2020 to finalise the scope of the guideline.
A second GDG meeting is scheduled for 15th December 2020 to prioritise outcomes. The first GDG meeting was held on 24th January 2020 to finalise the scope of the guideline and prioritise outcomes.
The guideline will answer the following key question: among children with chronic pain (population), would giving pharmacologic, physical, psychological or a combination of these (intervention), compared to standard care or active comparators (comparator), result in change of pain experience, functional disability, health-related quality of life and other critical outcomes (outcomes)?
Synthesis of evidence WHO Procurement issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) from specialist technical experts. A systematic review team has been selected. WHO Procurement issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) from specialist technical experts. A systematic review team was selected.
Systematic and comprehensive evidence retrieval and synthesis on the effectiveness, safety and sociocultural acceptability of the possible interventions is being done by the Cochrane Pain, Palliative and Supportive Care (PaPas) group, Cochrane Qualitative Implementation methods Group (QIMG) and the Cochrane Response team. Development Development- GDG meeting A GDG meeting is planned for May 2021 to review the outcomes of the systematic review and evidence synthesis A second meeting of the GDG took place on 14-18 September 2020 wherein they formulated recommendations based on the evidence and other explicit considerations. Editing / peer review External Review Group An External Review Group (ERG) has been appointed for consultation and peer review An External Review Group (ERG) has been appointed for consultation and peer review. Finalisation Expected publication date The final guideline will be submitted to the WHO Guideline Review Committee for final approval.
The guideline is expected to be published Mid 2021 The final guideline was submitted to the WHO Guideline Review Committee on 15 October 2020 and have been approved.
The guideline is expected to be published in December 2020
Interim guidance: Whilst the documents are being updated, countries in need of guidance on pain management can:
- use the list of resources (https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/documents/pain-guidelines-list-of-resources.pdf) for advice concerning access to appropriate medicines for pain and palliative care, and/or
- contact WHO to request technical support at email@example.com
Related information briefs:
January Update here.
27 August 2019: WHO revision of pain management guidelines
20 June 2019: Web statement on pain management guidance(https://www.who.int/medicines/areas/quality_safety/guide_on_pain/en/)
Document updated on 21 January 2020 with further details on the Policy guideline.