Press Releases

SG/SM/8180
OBV/268
2 April 2002

PHYSICAL ACTIVITY IS ANTIDOTE TO SEDENTARY,
UNHEALTHY LIFESTYLES, SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL
IN WORLD HEALTH DAY MESSAGE

NEW YORK, 28 March (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message by Secretary-General Kofi Annan on World Health Day, 7 April:

"Move for Health", the theme for World Health Day 2002, is literally a call to action.

Non-communicable diseases –- such as diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular ailments -- have become a major epidemic in all societies, rich and poor alike. This is due, in large part, to a corresponding epidemic of sedentary and unhealthy lifestyles, changing diets and increased tobacco use.

Physical activity is the antidote. A vast body of knowledge, experience and scientific evidence shows that regular physical activity provides people of all ages, male and female, with substantial physical, social and mental health gains and general well being. It reduces the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer and lower back pain. It cuts down on stress, anxiety and depression. It promotes social interaction and social integration. In elderly people, it reduces feelings of loneliness. And in the young, it helps to prevent risky behaviours such as smoking and aggression.

But healthy living alone is not enough. Poverty, lack of education, and a lack of health services contribute as much to the incidence of non-communicable diseases as they do to AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. These, in turn, hinder development and help perpetuate the cycle of poverty.

Therefore I hope that the "Move for Health" will be truly global –- leading us towards healthy and active lifestyles, and helping us make progress in our work for development worldwide.

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