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Adolescents less likely than adults to meet exercise targets, World Health Organization says

The WHO recommends that teens get 60 minutes a day of exercise, much more than is recommended for adults.
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Posted at 10:20 AM, Jun 26, 2024

A new study released by the World Health Organization says 80% of teens across the world are not meeting the organization's recommended levels of physical activity.

The World Health Organization says that those ages 5-17 should get an average of at least an hour a day of moderate to vigorous exercise, with most of the physical activity being aerobic. Teens not getting enough exercise can lead to increased adiposity, poorer cardiometabolic health, fitness and behavioral conduct/pro-social behavior, and reduced sleep duration, the WHO said.

Examples of aerobic physical activity include walking, running, swimming and bicycling.

"Sedentary behavior is any period of low-energy expenditure while awake such as sitting, reclining or lying," the WHO said. "Lives are becoming increasingly sedentary through the use of motorized transport and the increased use of screens for work, education and recreation."

The WHO also found that 31% of adults aren't getting enough physical activity, which is up from 26% five years ago.

"These new findings highlight a lost opportunity to reduce cancer and heart disease, and improve mental health and well-being through increased physical activity," said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general. "We must renew our commitment to increasing levels of physical activity and prioritizing bold action, including strengthened policies and increased funding, to reverse this worrying trend.”

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The WHO recommends 150-300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise for adults, or 75-150 minutes a week of vigorous physical activity. Additionally, adults should include muscle-strengthening activities at least twice a week.

The WHO said adults not getting enough physical activity puts them at risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes, Type 2 diabetes, dementia and cancers such as breast and colon.

The World Health Organization said it is urging its member nations to develop policies aimed at increasing exercise rates.