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The Lancet 2016 report: Do we need more research, surveillance and plans? Comment by ISCA President Mogens Kirkeby

Photo: ISCA and the NowWeMOVE campaign are moving people with opportunities for action (courtesy Ollerup Academy of PE).


If you get tired of watching the Olympic Games this week, why not read the new Lancet report on physical activity? But remember to move while reading it – the study recommends that if you sit for eight hours on a chair daily, you need one hour of physical activity to balance out the risk.


Four years ago, The Lancet launched its first series of articles on physical inactivity, calling it a PANDEMIC. That created some fuss, particularly as it was released just before the London Olympic Games, which promised to “inspire a generation” and “transform a nation” of increasingly sedentary inhabitants through the Games’ legacy.


Dropping participation rates in the UK after the Games suggested that this ambition to transform and inspire through an elite sport spectacle had not exactly “transpired”. But what about the rest of the world? Have there been any improvements over the last four years?


Again prior to the Olympics, in Rio in 2016, The Lancet published a new series of studies and comments on physical activity. And once again, the authors showed that the global trend of physical inactivity still has all the characteristics of a pandemic. And what’s worse is that in many cases, as its Update on the global pandemic of inactivity points out, “knowledge has not yet been translated into action”.


“Progress on physical activity has been far from proportionate to the documented burden of disease from physical inactivity in countries of all income levels,” the authors, Lars Bo Andersen, Jorge Mota and Loretta di Pietro conclude.


“The most progress might have been made in putting physical activity on the health agenda of LMICs [low and middle income countries]. LMICs are laying the groundwork for effective public health action on physical activity, but it is not clear where the resources will be found to scale up effective interventions, build a physical activity workforce in public health, expand research in LMICs, and take bold initiatives to alter policies that will increase physical activity in all countries.”


We have more knowledge, more surveillance, more policy and plans – BUT less physical activity in today’s world. My response to this is do we need more research, surveillance and plans? NO we need action!!


That action can only come from the bottom-up, through more effective grassroots sport and physical activity initiatives. ISCA is still working to create opportunities for the people who are MOVING PEOPLE to exchange their experiences, work together, scale up their initiatives (MOVE Transfer, for example), promote themselves and be active in campaigning for more physical activity. This type of action has the power to “transform” more than any single sporting event can dream about.


Read The Lancet’s 2016 report here

Find out more about ISCA’s NowWeMOVE campaign and grasp an opportunity for action