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World Health Organization presents Dubai forum to promote physical activity

World Health Organization presents Dubai forum to promote physical activity
February 26, 2014

The World Health Organisation has staged its first-ever Arabian Gulf forum, aiming to promote physical activity during the entire lifespan of regional populations.

Held in Dubai on 24th and 25th February, the 'Move For Health' regional forum brought together 12 ministers of health, sports, transport and education in addition to many renowned global and regional experts to discuss how best to promote and integrate physical activity as a daily routine in people's lives.

Physical inactivity has been identified as the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality, after high blood pressure (13%), tobacco use (9%) and high blood glucose (6%). Globally, 6% of deaths are attributed to physical inactivity. It contributes to up to 25% of breast and colon cancers, 27% of diabetes and 30% of heart disease.

In the Arabian Gulf and Middle East, physical inactivity is a major concern as the region is considered to have one of the highest rates of physically inactive people in the world - with one out of three men and one out of two women inactive.

In order to increase the level of activity in the region, the forum raised awareness and shared successful experiences in promoting physical activity.

In advancing a life-course approach to promoting physical activity in order to promote better health, experts from sectors including education, transport, youth and health began the development of an outline of a multi-sectoral plan of action for promoting physical activity in region.

Introducing the forum, a statement from the event organisers stated "physical activity is not necessarily sport. It is any bodily movement produced by the skeletal muscles that uses energy. This includes sports and exercise as well as other activities such as playing, walking, doing household chores, gardening and dancing.

"Regular physical activity is critical for population health as it enables healthy growth and development for children and youth and it supports healthy ageing and prevents osteoporosis. In addition, it lowers the risk of several diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, colon and breast cancer.

"Being physically active prolongs life, enhances productivity and contributes to economic prosperity.

"Common factors have contributed to populations in the Region becoming physically less active, such as insufficient public awareness about the negative health impacts of inactivity, living environments that restrict mobility and provide no space for recreation, inadequate public transportation and changes in lifestyle with greater reliance on personal vehicles.

"While addressing common factors may be a challenge, the forum has provided a strategic opportunity for multiple sectors to move for health and develop multi-level and multi-sector approaches involving education, labour, health, youth and sport, media and information, urban planning and transport in accordance with the United Nations Political Declaration on Noncommunicable Diseases."



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