Development of public policy and physical activity initiatives internationally

Sports Med. 1996 Mar;21(3):157-63. doi: 10.2165/00007256-199621030-00001.


Epidemiological, pathological, clinical, and experimental studies over the past 40 years convincingly show that physical inactivity and low physical fitness contribute substantially to the major chronic diseases prevalent in industrialised societies. Several industrialised countries around the world report increases in physical activity participation among adults in recent years, but the prevalence of inactivity remains high. These increases in voluntary exercise are at least partially offset by decreasing daily energy demands due to increased mechanisation at home, at work and during leisure-time. In developing countries, physical inactivity is becoming a prevalent lifestyle due to rapid social and economic changes. Clinical interventions and mass appeals to be more physically active are limited in effectiveness against the background of increasingly sedentary lifestyles. Exercise scientists and public health officials need to turn attention to public policy and legislative initiatives to restructure physical and social environments to encourage more physical activity and discourage sedentary habits.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Public Policy