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World Health Organization (WHO): Global recommendations on physical activity for health (2010)

By 17 May 2020No Comments
World Health Organization (WHO)
Published: 2010


This document provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) provides guidelines focusing on preventing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) through physical activity at population level. It argues global health is being influenced by three trends: population-ageing, rapid unplanned urbanization and globalization, all of which can result in unhealthy environments and behaviours. The document provides scientifically informed guidelines, with a global scope, on the benefits, type, amount, frequency, intensity, type and total amount of physical activity necessary for health benefits.


Scientific evidence from a vast body of sources was collected, reviewed and analysed for age groups 5-17, 18-64, and 65+, and for the following outcomes: cancer, cardiorespiratory, metabolic, musculoskeletal and functional health. A process was set out to develop the recommendations, establishing a global guideline group with expertise both in subject matter and in policy development and implementation. A final draft was prepared, peer reviewed by WHO regional officials, and then finalized following approval by the WHO Guideline Review Committee. The guidelines were then translated, published and disseminated.

Key Findings

Ages 5-17 should accumulate 60 minutes of moderate-vigorous physical activity daily. Amounts greater than 60 will provide additional health benefits, and most daily activity should be aerobic, with vigorous-intensity activities that strengthen muscle and bone incorporated at least 3 times a week. Ages 18-64 should at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity OR 75 minutes vigorous-intensity (or equivalent combination) aerobic physical activity per week. Aerobic activity should be performed in bouts of at least 10 minutes duration, with greater amounts providing additional health benefits. Muscle strengthening activities should be done on 2 or more days a week. For ages 65+ the recommendations are the same for ages 18-64, but those suffering from poor health or mobility should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow.


The primary target audience for these guidelines are national policy makers. The challenge lies in implementing them through national policies, programmes and interventions, as well as communicating it to audiences at higher risk of poor health. This includes those living in deprived areas and the older generation.