Physical activity is a move towards health and well-being: World Day for Physical Activity, 6 April

Physical activity is a move towards health and well-being: World Day for Physical Activity, 6 April

Two thirds of the world’s population is not sufficiently physically active – yet strong evidence shows that lack of exercise is a leading risk factor for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes and other debilitating conditions.  In the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 2014 Global Status Report on NCDs physical inactivity is listed as a major contributory factor in 3.2 million deaths and 69.3 disability-adjusted life years annually – statistics that could be overturned with just 30 minutes of daily, moderate-intensity exercise. 

World Day for Physical Activity, 6 April 2017, promotes the message that physical activity is essential for health and well-being. It is an annual reminder of the all-round benefits of exercise, not only in protecting the health of individuals, but reducing the burden on over-stretched health-care systems and the financial and disruptive impact on global economies due to staff sickness and absenteeism.

The Union positively encourages exercise amongst its own staff and, at its headquarters in Paris, runs weekly fitness and meditation classes that are offered to employees free of charge.  For Sylvie Pernot, Human Resources Manager – France, the all-round benefits are obvious. “As well as fitness benefits, the classes are effective in bringing people closer together, releasing tensions and are an important tool in stress management.  They are also fun!”

Rasha Jerandi, Submissions Coordinator at The Union, says, “We have learned some techniques to help with backache after a long day in front of our screens, I’ve actually used a couple of them in the office and it has definitely helped.  Going back to work after fitness class is great, I feel re-energised and motivated, we’re really lucky to have this opportunity. I’ve not missed a class since we’ve started.”

The Union supports the Bangkok Declaration on Physical Activity that, in November 2016, underlined the need for a global focus on physical activity and highlighted that environmental factors such as technology and urbanisation were contributing to increased sedentary behaviours. The WHO member states have a global target to reduce physical inactivity by 10 percent by 2025, guided by the WHO Global NCD Action Plan 2013-2020 and in line with the WHO Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health and the WHO Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity  

The more that exercise in the workplace becomes commonplace, the more these global strategies will be positively impacted.