Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Physical Inactivity, Neglected Burden on Economy


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Physical and mental health and economy



  • Global status report on physical activity is WHO’s first dedicated global assessment of global progress on country implementation of policy recommendations of the Global Action Plan on Physical Activity (GAPPA) 2018-2030.

What are the findings of the report?

  • Poor physical activity standards: Over 80 per cent adolescents and 27 per cent adults do not meet the physical activity standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO), according to a new report.
  • developing non-communicable diseases: This will lead to 500 million additional people developing non-communicable diseases from 2020-2030 and cost the global economy $27 billion annually, it added.

How physical Inactivity impacts health and Economy?

  • Changing lifestyles: Sedentary lifestyle of a large share of the global population has been linked to rising prevalence of heart diseases, obesity, diabetes or other noncommunicable diseases.
  • Increasing Hypertension and depression: Of the 500 million new cases projected, nearly half will be attributed to hypertension and 43 per cent to depression, the authors of the report said.
  • A strain on the health systems: The report quantified the economic burden of not being able to meet the GAPPA target. The sharp rise in non-communicable diseases will also put a strain on the health systems in every country.
  • Rising cost of treatment: If the current prevalence of physical inactivity doesn’t change, the world will incur treatment costs of just over $300 billion till 2030, the report mentioned.
  • 70 per cent of health-care expenditure: The largest economic cost is set to occur among high-income countries, according to the analysis. This will account for 70 per cent of health-care expenditure on treating illness resulting from physical inactivity, it showed. Around 75 per cent of the cases will occur in low- and middle-income countries, it added.

What are the government efforts to address the physical inactivity menace?

  • National physical activity policy: Less than half the countries in the world have any national physical activity policy, showed the analysis of 194 countries by WHO published October 19, 2022.
  • National policies are in operation: Less than 40 per cent of the existing national policies are in operation, the United Nations health agency noted in the Global status report on physical activity 2022.
  • Monitor physical activity among adolescents: As many as 75 per cent of countries monitor physical activity among adolescents, and less than 30 per cent monitor physical activity in children under 5 years.
  • Addressing lack of public Infrastructure: The report highlighted that data regarding progress on certain policy actions is missing. These include provision of public open space, provision of walking and cycling infrastructure, provision of sport and physical education in schools.
  • National physical activity guidelines: only 30 per cent of countries have national physical activity guidelines for all age groups, according to the findings of the report.


What are the Recommendations of WHO?

  • Exercise benefits mental and physical health: Light exercise and even walking has proven benefits for mental and physical health, studies have shown.
  • Infrastructural changes by governments: Citizens cannot make healthier lifestyle choices without infrastructural changes by governments such as safe walking and cycling lanes. “In policy areas that could encourage active and sustainable transport, only just over 40% of countries have road design standards that make walking and cycling safer,” the WHO analysts found.
  • Five ways to address the policy gaps: 
  1. Strengthen whole-of-government ownership and political leadership
  2. Integrate physical activity into relevant policies and support policy implementation with practical tools and guidance
  3. Strengthen partnerships, engage communities and build capacity in people
  4. Reinforce data systems, monitoring, and knowledge translation
  5. Secure sustainable funding and align with national policy commitments
  • Four areas of policy intervention:
  1. Active societies,
  2. active environments,
  3. active people and
  4. active systems.


Government of India’s efforts to promote physical activity

  • FIT India Movement: FIT INDIA Movement was launched on 29th August 2019 by Honorable Prime Minister with a view to make fitness an integral part of our daily lives. The mission of the Movement is to bring about behavioral changes and move towards a more physically active lifestyle.
  • Objectives of Fit India: Fit India proposes to undertake various initiatives and conduct events to achieve the following objectives:
  1. To promote fitness as easy, fun and free.
  2. To spread awareness on fitness and various physical activities that promote fitness through focused campaigns.
  3. To encourage indigenous sports.
  4. To make fitness reach every school, college/university, panchayat/village, etc.
  5. To create a platform for citizens of India to share information, drive awareness and encourage sharing of personal fitness stories.



  • Physical inactivity is silent poison, killing the future of the citizens. Work from home, remote working has increased the physical inactivity among the working populations. Indoor games, mobile addictions, e-learning have reduced the physical activity of children. It’s a collective responsibility of parents, society and government to promote and encourage the physical activity among citizens.

Mains Question Q.

What are the ill effects of physical inactivity on health and economy? What are the policies of government India to promote healthy life style?

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