WHO Reports Highest Cost of Physical Inactivity Worldwide


by Iqra Zafar

10 Best Activities



WHO (World Health Organization) published a global report on physical inactivity in 2022. The report measures the impact of physical activity on human health. The report also measures the extent of execution of recommendations on increasing physical activity among people of all ages and all physical abilities.

In this report, data from 194 countries were obtained which reveals that slow progress is being made regarding policymaking and its implementation to increase the level of physical activity. This will help to lessen the burden on healthcare systems by preventing diseases. 

Global reports on physical activity revealed the following statistics:

  • Almost 50% of the countries have a national physical activity plan and out of this less than 40% remain functional

  • National physical activity plan for all age groups is working in only 30% of countries

  • When it comes to monitoring physical activity, 75% monitor it among adolescents and less than 30% in children less than 5 years of age.

The report also suggested that between 2020-2030, 500 million people will be developing heart problems, diabetes, obesity, and other such illnesses due to a lack of physical activity. 


Talking about this, WHO Director General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that "We need more countries to scale up implementation of policies to support people to be more active through walking, cycling, sport, and other physical activity. The benefits are huge, not only for the physical and mental health of individuals, but also for societies, environments, and economies...” He further said, “We hope countries and partners will use this report to build more active, healthier, and fairer societies for all.” 

The economic burden of physical inactivity will reach US$ 27 billion annually. Talking on this, the Head of the WHO Physical Activity Unit, Dr. Fiona Bull said, “We are missing globally approved indicators to measure access to parks, cycle lanes, footpaths – even though we know that data do exist in some countries. Consequently, we cannot report or track the global provision of infrastructure that will facilitate increases in physical activity”.

Dr. Fiona further said, “It can be a vicious circle, no indicator and no data leads to no tracking and no accountability, and then too often, to no policy and no investment. What gets measured gets done, and we have some way to go to comprehensively and robustly track national actions on physical activity.”

The findings of this report call for immediate measures for prioritization of physical activity as well as integrating it into relevant policies alongside its effective implementation.