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Investing in policies to enable individuals to become more physically active will pay dividends

(April 6th, 2017, New York, USA) – Vital Strategies today called on governments, especially city administrations, and organizations of all types to invest in promoting and enabling physical activity.

José Luis Castro, President and CEO, Vital Strategies, said: “There is a wealth of evidence that regular physical activity is essential to good physical and mental health. Among its many benefits, it is linked to reduced rates of heart disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes, and osteoporosis, and improves self-esteem and stress management. The preventative benefits of regular physical activity can prolong life expectancy, reduce disability, improve quality of life, and through better health and fitness expand the life opportunities of millions of the world’s people, while also reducing the economic cost of inactivity, which cost $67.5 billion in 2013.

“There are encouraging signs that this issue is gaining importance with policymakers and other stakeholders around the world. At events like Habitat III in Quito last October, we called for cross-sectoral collaboration to achieve urban health in sustainable cities, and we find a willing audience for these messages. This includes ensuring that governments at all levels advance evidence-based strategies that integrate land use and transportation policies to expand use of active and public transit that can make daily physical activity a default option, contributing to healthier, more livable and sustainable cities.

“Ideally, healthy behaviors start early and turn into lifelong habits – protecting health and preventing disease among the youngest to the oldest in our communities. We support the guidance of the WHO Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity (ECHO), which recommends providing adequate facilities and guiding parents, teachers and caregivers on how to build and sustain suitable levels of physical activity for children.

“But we cannot just leave this issue to governments and educators. Every employer needs to play its part in providing incentives and facilities that encourage its workers to get physical activity as part of their daily commutes. For our part, Vital Strategies is walking the talk. We have implemented policies to encourage the use of mass transit and incentivize regular physical activity, and regularly seek feedback on how we can make that more achievable.

“Change at the level of the individual person, school, organization or city is easier when the international consensus and guidance is clear. We support the Bangkok Declaration and the objective of developing and implementing a Global Action Plan on Physical Activity. The time for action is now. We at Vital Strategies stand ready to play our part.”

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that seeks to accelerate progress on the world’s most pressing health problems. Our team combines evidence-based strategies with innovation to help develop and implement sound public health policies, manage programs efficiently, strengthen data systems, conduct research, and design strategic communication campaigns for policy and behavior change. To find out more, please visit www.vitalstrategies.org or Twitter @VitalStrat.

For further information or to arrange an interview with a Vital Strategies public health expert, please contact Tracey Johnston, Vital Strategies, at +44.7889.081.170 or tjohnston@vitalstrategies.org