Stating that up to 5 million deaths can be avoided each year if all adults devote at least 150-300 minutes every week for exercise, the World Health Organisation (WHO), in a fresh set of guidelines, has recommended moderate to vigorous aerobic activity for adults and an average of 60 minutes of exercising per day for children and adolescents.
The guidelines come against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns which have forced millions across the world to stay at home and limited everyday physical activities.
These guidelines are meant to prevent the rise of non-communicable diseases which may arise from sedentary lifestyle. Moreover, statistics released by the WHO indicate that one in four adults, and four out of five adolescents do not get enough physical activity, costing over $54 billion in direct healthcare.
The global public health agency said regular physical activity, restrained due to the pandemic, helps in managing heart diseases, diabetes and cancer as well as reducing the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
According to reports, technical experts from all six WHO regions were part of the Guideline Development Group (GDG) formed in 2019. The group had met in February and framed recommendations by consensus, which were then posted online for public consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
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, the guidelines state.
According to Dr Fiona Bull, who is the head of the Physical Activity Unit which led the framing of the new guidelines, said they highlighted "how important being active is for our hearts, bodies and minds, and how favourable outcomes benefit everyone, of all ages and abilities".