In an effort to reduce the global burden of non-communicable disease, the World Health Organization released a Global Strategy for Diet and Physical Activity in May 2004. This commentary reports on the development of the strategy and its importance specifically for physical activity-related work of NGOs and researchers interested in increasing global physical activity participation. Sparked by its work on global efforts to target non-communicable disease prevention in 2000, the World Health Organization commissioned a global strategy on diet and physical activity. The physical activity interest followed efforts that had led to the initial global "Move for Health Day" in 2002. WHO assembled a reference group for the global strategy, and a regional consultation process with countries was undertaken. Underpinning the responses was the need for more physical activity advocacy; partnerships outside of health including urban planning; development of national activity guidelines; and monitoring of the implementation of the strategy. The consultation process was an important mechanism to confirm the importance and elevate the profile of physical activity within the global strategy. It is suggested that separate implementation strategies for diet and physical activity may be needed to work with partner agencies in disparate sectors (e.g. urban planning for physical activity, agriculture for diet). International professional societies are well situated to make an important contribution to global public health by advocating for the importance of physical activity among risk factors; developing international measures of physical activity and global impacts of inactivity; and developing a global research and intervention agenda.