June 18, 2019

Sports as an instrument for improving health

Engaging in sport has multiple health benefits. Physical activity can reduce the risk of dying prematurely from noncommunicable diseases as well as developing illnesses ranging from cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes to stress, anxiety and depression. It also helps prevent and reduce hypertension, control body weight, prevent and control treat osteoporosis and manage chronic pain.

While it is critical that everyone regularly participates in sport and physical activity, regardless of age, ability, gender or background, physical activity provides additional benefits to certain groups, for example:

  • Among young people, physical activity contributes to healthy bones, efficient heart and lung function and improved motor skills and cognitive function.
  • Among women, physical activity helps prevent hip fractures and reduce the effects of osteoporosis.
  • Among older people, physical activity enhances functional capacity, helping maintain quality of life and independence.

Most of these health benefits can be obtained from at least 30 cumulative minutes of moderate physical activity each day. Additional benefits can be obtained from additional activity (see figure). Appropriate forms of physical activity include a broad range of activities, such as walking, climbing stairs and dancing.

Sport can further contribute to priority health issues, including as a tool to mobilize societies in support of immunization campaigns and in HIV/AIDS programming (see Sport and HIV/AIDS).



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