People Must Exercise Regularly During Pandemic: WHO

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Geneva: Eight months after coronavirus struck the world, the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday said the pandemic is no excuse for not getting enough exercise.

Updating its physical activity guidelines, the UN health agency stressed that exercise was vital to physical and mental health, while sedentary behaviour can have serious repercussions.

“WHO urges everyone to continue to stay active through the Covid-19 pandemic,” the agency’s head of health promotion Ruediger Krech was quoted as telling reporters.

“If we do not remain active, we run the risk of creating another pandemic of ill-health as a result of sedentary behaviour.”

There are still no clear statistics on what impact the pandemic has had on physical activity, but lockdowns, movement restrictions, gym closures and other measures have clearly forced many people to stay home and have disrupted regular activities and exercise routines.

This is worrying considering that even before the crisis, data shows the vast majority of young people and many adults were not active enough, with dire repercussions for global health.

The WHO estimates that pushing more people to get off the sofa or office chair to move about more could avert up to five million deaths each year, NDTV reported.

“Being physically active is critical for health and well-being. It can help to add years to life, and life to years,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesussaid in a statement.

How every move counts

Regular physical activity is key to preventing and helping to manage heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and cancer.

It has also been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, reduce cognitive decline, improve memory and boost overall brain health, the report added.

WHO recommends

Adults get at least two-and-a-half to five hours of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity per week, while children and adolescents should on average move at least an hour a day.

But it warned that its statistics showed that a full quarter of all adults and 80 percent of adolescents do not meet those targets.

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