Physical Activity: Government Guidelines & Recommendations

In this section, we share available national guidelines on the amount and type of physical activity people should engage in to improve their health.

Guidelines serve as an essential resource for policymakers and health care professionals seeing patients in clinical settings.

Physical Activity Guidelines, France

The National Sport Health Strategy (2019-2024) was developed in France to promote health and well-being through physical activity and sport. It is aligned with the National Health Strategy and Public Health Plan, whilst adhering to global recommendations on physical activity for health for children and adults, as set out by WHO in 2010. The Ministry of Sports is currently working on a "development plan for physical activity and sport activity" to address the social inequalities in access to the practice of physical and sporting activity. The guidance published adopts a life-course approach with recommendations for children, adults, and elderly people. Children between the ages of 5 and 17 years should accumulate at least 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity. For adults (aged 18 to 64 years), a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or at least 75 minutes of sustained-intensity endurance activity during the week, or an equivalent combination. For those aged over 65 years, the guidelines are like those for adults aged 18 to 64 years, but with an emphasis on maintaining or increasing muscle strength and endurance activities. It indicates the added benefit of engaging in additional physical activity than specified. 
 
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German National Recommendations for Physical Activity and Physical Activity Promotion

With support from the Federal Ministry of Health, and based on a decision by the German Bundestag, Germany has developed its first national recommendation for physical activity, and its promotion, for children and youth, adults, older adults, and adults with chronic diseases. The Federal Ministry of Health has also set up a working group to help take forward these recommendations as part of the National Action Plan ‘IN FORM’, a German national initiative to promote healthy diets and physical activity. Building on the World Health Organization Global Recommendations, they are designed for use by the public, stakeholders, and organisations directly or indirectly influencing the development or implementation of physical activity-related health promotion. The national recommendations outline tangible figures and barriers that should be considered when introducing physical activity. 
 
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2017 Dutch Physical Activity Guidelines

The 2017 Dutch Physical Activity Guidelines provide advice on how much physical activity the population should adopt to achieve health gains. A multidisciplinary committee of 14 scientists was appointed to review existing guidelines, and more recently published evidence on physical activity and sedentary behaviors amongst adults, older people, and children aged 4-18 years old. According to the new exercise guidelines, adults should exercise moderately intensively for at least two and a half hours a week and children at least an hour daily. Muscle and bone-strengthening activities are also recommended for both groups. All this lowers the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depressive symptoms, and, in the elderly, fractures. The Health Council advises the Minister of Health, Welfare, and Sport to encourage people to exercise on a more regular basis and reduce the amount they spend sitting down. They can meet this target by playing a sport, or by walking, cycling, or doing strenuous household chores. There is also increased recognition that the more physical activity you engage in, the better. The Netherlands Institute for Sport and Physical Activity has raised public awareness of the guidelines through government-funded campaigns.

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Norwegian guidelines on diet, nutrition, and physical activity

In March 2014, the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations were published, integrating nutrition and physical activity guidelines across Nordic countries. The 5th edition of the publication uses an 'evidence-based and transparent approach in assessing associations between nutrition, foods, and health outcomes'. The NNR forms part of the overall Nordic action plan ‘A better life through diet and physical activity'. 

The publication emphasises the profound effects of physical activity on body composition and metabolism, including the risk of developing overweight or obesity. To ensure the best possible health for the population at large, and in an inclusive and holistic approach, it presents recommendations for physical activity in different age groups. Recommendations are based on WHO guidelines and also aim to reduce sedentary behaviours. Experts from the Nordic region and beyond are invited to participate in an open collaboration on the 2022 edition of the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations.

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Poland Sports Development Programme, 2020.

In Poland, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations on physical activity for health (2010) for 5-17 years old, 18-64 years old, and elderly populations 65 years old and above are used. National recommendations on physical activity targeting the general population are anticipated to be developed in parallel with the implementation of the Sports Development Programme (2020). There is recognition of the need to increase the physical activity of society. Particularly among children and youth. The role that sport can play in building communities is also acknowledged. Yet there is also a need to modify existing infrastructure to support the development of sport-related habits.

The Polish Society of Sports Medicine has developed specific recommendations on physical activity for adults and older adults, based on guidance from the European Society of Cardiology, the American College of Sports Medicine, and the American Heart Association. 

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National Action Plan for Physical Activity (PANAF)

The National Action Plan for Physical Activity (PANAF) aims to increase the level of physical activity of the population of Portugal. An Intersectoral Commission for the Promotion of Physical Activity (CIPAF) was created to evaluate and publicly disseminate information on the main indicators of progress in promoting physical activity. CIPAF sensitise partners, public opinion, and operationalise and monitor the PANAF. Thus far many legislations have passed, and initiatives conducted in the community have constituted a sport-friendly municipality program, a national walking and running programme, and more. The national action plan focuses on sport, education throughout the life cycle, encouraging healthy workplaces that facilitate active lifestyles, and special groups in the population amongst other things.

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Spanish Recommendations for the population on Physical Activity for Health and Sedentary Reduction 

In 2015, Spain presented national guidelines based on WHO’s global recommendation on physical activity for health (2010). These guidelines outline recommendations for physical activity, and additional tips to reduce screen time and sedentary behaviour across the population. The goal of the collaboration between the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports, and the National Sports is to increase awareness of the amount, intensity, frequency, and duration of physical activity that benefits health. The guidance builds on existing international recommendations and scientific evidence, including data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Sports Medicine (1995) in the USA. 

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WHO Global Action Plan on Physical Activity 2018-2030

The Global Action Plan on Physical Activity strives to achieve a 15% reduction in physical inactivity across the world by 2030. Recognising that rising inactivity levels will have negative impacts on health systems, the environment, economic development, community well-being, and quality of life, the document sets for objectives, and 20 policy actions that are recommended universally. WHO aims to support countries by providing up-to-date guidance and a framework for policy actions. In parallel, the WHO will continue to monitor the progress and impact of such guidelines.

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WHO Guidelines on Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour

"The WHO Guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behaviour provide evidence-based public health recommendations for children, adolescents, adults and older adults on the amount of physical activity (frequency, intensity and duration) required to offer significant health benefits and mitigate health risks. For the first time, recommendations are provided on the associations between sedentary behaviour and health outcomes, as well as for subpopulations, such as pregnant and postpartum women, and people living with chronic conditions or disability."

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Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition

"The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans is an essential resource for health professionals and policymakers as they design and implement physical activity programs, policies, and promotion initiatives. It provides information that helps Americans make healthy choices for themselves and their families, and discusses evidence-based, community-level interventions that can make being physically active the easy choice in all the places where people live, learn, work, and play."

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UK Chief Medical Officers’ Physical Activity Guidelines

The United Kingdom was one of the first nations to recognise the importance of physical activity for physical and mental well-being. In 2011, Chief Medical Officers (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) issued physical activity guidelines, a set of recommendations based on the global evidence for how much and what kind of physical activity we need to do. The 2019 UK physical activity guidelines build on these initial recommendations by sharing new guidance for disabled adults, during pregnancy, and post-partum. The document draws on global evidence, and with a life course approach covering Children under-5s, Children and Young People (5-18 years), Adults (19-64 years), and Older Adults (65+). In the document guidance on the volume, frequency, and type of physical activity recommended is shared.
 
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Physical Activity Dossier

This page will be constantly updated with new studies as they come about. In the meantime, you can view our other elements of the physical activity dossier.

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