8 investments that work to increase physical activity launched

10 November 2020
Global report details change required to meet WHO targets to 2030
The #8Investments strategy focuses on increasing physical activity across settings (schools, workplaces and healthcare), through inclusive sport and recreation for all, and investment in active transport systems and healthy built environments.

The release of a report revealing eight investments that can be implemented anywhere to embed physical activity in national and subnational policies is a call to action for everyone, including professionals, academics, civil society and decision makers.

Released today by the International Society for Physical Activity and Health (ISPAH), the report “Eight investments that work for physical activity”, highlights that business as well as government action is required to achieve the 15 percent reduction in inactivity in the next decade in the World Health Organisation Global Action Plan for Physical Activity 2018-2030.

An update on the ‘7 Investments’ report released three years ago, this latest report now includes workplaces as the crucial eighth investment. It includes new evidence and highlights that systemic change and collaboration is required to fight what has been characterised as a global pandemic.

The #8Investments strategy focuses on increasing physical activity across settings (schools, workplaces and healthcare), through inclusive sport and recreation for all, and investment in active transport systems and healthy built environments.

“In contrast to other public health concerns, such as tobacco control, progress in physical activity promotion had been slow, with physical inactivity now posing a similar population health threat as tobacco smoking,” said co-author and advocacy lead for ISPAH, senior research fellow Dr Lindsey Reece from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Medicine and Health.

“We have learnt from smoking and other public health concerns that in order to promote change, we need to agree on what works and be clear in our messaging on this.

“This is what the #8Investments is designed to do,” Dr Reece said of the campaign ISPAH is launching today.

The campaign includes a Twitter handle (#8Investments) as well as an online campaign where both individuals and organisations can endorse the document.

Dr Reece, the academic director of SPRINTER (Sport and Recreation Intervention and Epidemiology Research Group) a research partnership between the University and the NSW government, said the lack of physical activity was costly to individuals as well as the economy.

“Globally, four in five adolescents and one in four adults are insufficiently active, accounting for more than five million deaths annually, and costing the global economy billions of dollars.”

“We know there is no single solution to enable more people to move, but this #8Investments document provides a single, evidence-based summary of what works globally.

“I led the ‘Sport and recreation for all’ section within the #8Investments, which acknowledges the powerful role sport and recreation play in bringing people together. Challenging the stereotype that sport is only for the elite, and placing greater focus on social fun and accessible opportunities to play at community grass roots levels is critical in supporting everyone of all ages to be active.”

The #8Investments provides a summary of eight areas for action which are supported by scientific evidence and have worldwide applicability.

The 8 investments for individuals and society include:

1.    Workplaces. Workplace-based physical activity programmes, which include opportunities to be active, embedded throughout the day.

2.    Whole-of-school program. At least an hour per day of moderate-to vigorous-intensity physical activity, which is activity that makes us sweat, breathe harder and our hearts beat faster.

3.    Healthcare. Healthcare workers can encourage activity for the prevention and management of disease and also as a way to promote good mental and social health.

4.    Sport and recreation for all. Given the high cost of some sports, government subsidies may be one way to increase sports participation.

5.    Community-wide programs. Offering more than one approach to physical activity promotion is recommended.

6.    Active travel. Several cities around the world are working towards increasing walking, cycling and public transportation, with the idea of the ‘15- or 20-minute city’ where most daily needs are within a 20-minute walk from home, with safe cycling and local transport options.

7.    Active urban design. It’s important that cities encourage physical activity and public transport useage given that the proportion of people living in cities is projected to grow to 68 percent in 2050.

8.    Public education, including mass media. A 2019 review of reviews reported that mass media (including social media) was found to increase knowledge, awareness, and intention for physical activity; but impact on physical activity behaviour was mixed. This is why a systems-based approach is necessary, complemented by health promotion activities, for example, to provide opportunities and infrastructure.

People can advocate for a more physically active world by reading, sharing and endorsing the #8Investments document, which can be accessed here, along with a suite of resources to support your advocacy efforts. Join the conversation by engaging with ISPAH and our global community online on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and share your stories of engagement using #8Investments.

This article, “ISPAH’s Eight Investments That Work for Physical Activity”, by The International Society for Physical Activity and Health (ISPAH), has been published online and is free to access from the ISPAH website. The full document, animation, infographic and various language translations are free to access:

The University of Sydney supported Dr Lindsey Reece in her voluntary role as Advocacy lead for ISPAH with salary support to contribute to the writing of this document. The International Society for Physical Activity and Health is the world-leading society advancing physical activity science, education, capacity building and advocacy. Its vision is of a healthy active world, where opportunities for physical activity and active living are available to all.  

Vivienne Reiner

PhD Candidate and Casual Academic

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