Sports and health go hand in hand, offering people all over the world, of different abilities and ages, the chance for happier, healthier and more productive lives.
The WHO Sports and Health Programme was established to capitalize on the great potential of helping people worldwide lead healthy lives through promoting participation in sports and working with the sports community to advance health for all.
The overall objective of the WHO Sports and Health Programme is to accelerate progress on , which is to ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages by implementing WHO’s 13th General Programme of Work for achieving universal health coverage, addressing health emergencies and promoting healthier populations.
Regular physical activity helps prevent and treat noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and breast and colon cancer. It also helps prevent hypertension, overweight and obesity and can improve mental health, quality of life and well-being. Yet, much of the world is becoming less active. As countries develop economically, levels of inactivity increase. In some countries, these levels can be as high as 70%, due to changing transport patterns, increased use of technology, cultural values and urbanization.
A healthy diet plays a vital part in helping people enjoy sports. At the same time, sporting venues and institutions can be powerful venues for promoting health diet options to sports enthusiasts and spectators alike.
Following a healthy diet throughout our lives helps prevent malnutrition in all its forms as well as a range of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and conditions.
But increased production of processed foods, rapid urbanization and changing lifestyles have led to a shift in diets. People now consume more foods high in energy, fats, free sugars and salt, and many people do not eat enough fruit, vegetables and other fibre such as whole grains.
Mass gatherings, like the FIFA World Cup or Olympics, require considerable preparedness and response capabilities on the part of the host. Authorities and organizers must undertake adequate planning by taking a risk-based approach to their preparations
involving risk evaluation, mitigation and communication. It also requires decision-making on holding and cancelling mass gathering events, and on how to make the event safer by taking a consultative process involving all stakeholders.
WHO supports countries in protecting their citizens from the health impacts of “psychoactive substances” that can cause intoxication and change behavior; lead to substance use disorders, such as alcohol or drug dependence; and have toxic effects
on bodily systems and organs, including liver diseases, cognitive impairment, cancers and development disorders in children.
Approximately 3 million people die every year due to alcohol use and almost 0.5 million from drug use. Around 300 million people worldwide suffer from alcohol use disorders, and 35 million from drug use disorders.
WHO works on several priority areas when it comes to alcohol and other psychoactive substance use and sports. These include:
Heated tobacco products contain tobacco and expose users to toxic emissions, many of which cause cancer and are harmful to health. Electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) and electronic non-nicotine delivery systems (ENNDS), commonly known as e-cigarettes,
do not contain tobacco and may or may not contain nicotine, but are harmful to health and undoubtedly unsafe.
WHO works on several priority areas when it comes to tobacco and sports. These include:
Increased investment is required on all fronts: for mental health awareness to increase understanding and reduce stigma; for efforts to increase access to quality mental health care and effective treatments; and for research to identify new treatments
and improve existing treatments for all mental disorders.
WHO works on several priority areas when it comes to mental health and sports. These include:
Road traffic crashes result in the deaths of approximately 1.3 million people worldwide each year and injure between 20 and 50 million people. More than half of all road traffic deaths and injuries involve vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians, cyclists
and motorcyclists and their passengers.
WHO works on many fronts to promote sustainable solutions to road traffic injuries, as well as other challenges, including drowning and falls.