Non communicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of death throughout the world. Promoting physical  activity and healthy eating is essential for reducing the NCD burden and mortality. 2 No communicable diseases pose a serious threat to public health in both developed and developing countries and they must  be prioritized as a global health concern. At the policy level, enough is known to have a significant impact on  the disease burden. 3

According to WHO Impact of NCDs 

According to the World Health Organization, NCDs such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and  chronic lung diseases account for 41 million (71%) of the world`s 57 million deaths each year, with  approximately 15 million of these deaths being premature (defined as occurring in people aged 30 to 70 years). 1 

Prevalence of NCDs has serious health and economic consequences for individuals, communities, and  healthcare systems. The growing NCD burden disproportionately affects low- and middle-income countries,  which account for 78% of global NCD deaths and 85% of premature deaths. 4 

Diet, physical activity, and sedentary behavior are all important modifiable risk factors for NCDs. Improving  these behaviors is thought to be critical to depressing the financial and health burden of NCDs. 5  

Risk factors for noncommunicable diseases 

Tobacco use, physical inactivity, and excessive consumption of nutrient-poor foods high in fat have all been  identified as major lifestyle risks for non-communicable diseases. 6  

Global organizations can also create guidelines, strategy documents, and policy frameworks to help member  countries, such as WHO’s Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity, and Health (GSDPAH). 7

Physical activity benefits the following health outcomes in adults: all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease  mortality, incident hypertension, incident type 2 diabetes, incident site-specific cancers, mental health  (reduced anxiety and depression symptoms), cognitive health, and sleep; adiposity measures may also  improve. 9 

WHO exercise recommendation for NCDs 

It is suggested that all adults engage in regular physical activity. 

Adults should engage in at least 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per week,  or 75-150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, or an equivalent combination of  moderate-intensity and vigorous-intensity activity.  

Adults should also engage in muscle-strengthening activities that involve all major muscle groups on two or  more days per week, as these provide additional health benefits. Strongly recommended.  

Adults can increase moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity to >300 minutes per week, or do >150  minutes per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate intensity and vigorous-intensity activity (when not contraindicated for those with chronic conditions).  

To improve functional capacity and prevent falls, older adults should engage in varied multicomponent  physical activity that emphasizes functional balance and strength training at moderate or higher intensity  three or more days per week as part of their weekly physical activity. 8 

However, there is a persistent gap between global policy knowledge and policy implementation at the  country level. 3 

NCD prevention and management  

Focusing on reducing the risk factors associated with these diseases is an important way to control NCDs.  

Governments and other stakeholders can reduce common modifiable risk factors at a low cost. Monitoring  the progress and trends of NCDs, as well as their risk, is critical for guiding policy and priorities.  

To reduce the impact of NCDs on individuals and society, a comprehensive approach is required, requiring  collaboration from all sectors, including health, finance, transportation, education, agriculture, planning, and  others, to reduce the risks associated with NCDs and promote interventions to prevent and control them. 9 


1 World Health Organization. (2014). Global status report on noncommunicable diseases 2014 (No.  WHO/NMH/NVI/15.1). World Health Organization. 

2 McKeon, G., Papadopoulos, E., Firth, J., Joshi, R., Teasdale, S., Newby, J., & Rosenbaum, S. (2022). Social  media interventions targeting exercise and diet behaviors in people with noncommunicable diseases (NCDs):  A systematic review. Internet interventions, 100497. 

3 Bennett, J. E., Stevens, G. A., Mathers, C. D., Bonita, R., Rehm, J., Kruk, M. E., … & Ezzati, M. (2018). NCD  Countdown 2030: worldwide trends in non-communicable disease mortality and progress towards  Sustainable Development Goal target 3.4. The lancet, 392(10152), 1072-1088. 

4 World Health Organization. (2018). Noncommunicable diseases country profiles 2018. 

5 World Health Organization. (2019). Global action plan on physical activity 2018-2030: more active people  for a healthier world. World Health Organization.

6 World Health Organization. (2019). Global action plan on physical activity 2018-2030: more active people  for a healthier world. World Health Organization. 5WHO: Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and  Health. WHA57.17 (22 May 2004). 

7 Magnusson, R. S. (2007). Non-communicable diseases and global health governance: enhancing global  processes to improve health development. Globalization and Health, 3(1), 1-16.3 7. 

8 Bull, F. C., Al-Ansari, S. S., Biddle, S., Borodulin, K., Buman, M. P., Cardon, G., … & Willumsen, J. F. (2020).  World Health Organization 2020 guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behaviour. British journal of  sports medicine, 54(24), 1451-1462.  9 Estimates, G. H. (2016). Disease burden by Cause, Age, Sex, by Country and by Region, 2000-2015. Geneva:  World Health Organization.

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