Physical activity importance

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As shown in the report “Physical activity policies for cardiovascular health” of December 2019*, regular physical activity plays a major role in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease (BCV) throughout Europe. The rate of these cardiovascular diseases is declining (adjusted for age) and is generated by the success of the efforts of the prevention programs. However, every year BCV causes an additional 3.9 million deaths in Europe, and recent data show that there is a slowdown in improving mortality, which raises growing concern that the rate of BCV deaths may start to rise new.

1) Adults, all ages

All-cause mortality Lower risk

Cardiometabolic conditions

  • Lower cardiovascular disease incidence and mortality (including heart disease and stroke)
  • Lower incidence of hypertension Lower incidence of type 2 diabetes


  • Lower incidence of bladder, breast, colon, endometrium, oesophagus, kidney, stomach, and lung cancers

Brain health

  • Reduced risk of dementia
  • Improved cognitive function
  • Improved cognitive function following bouts of aerobic activity
  • Improved quality of life Improved sleep
  • Reduced feelings of anxiety and depression in healthy people and in people with existing clinical syndromes
  • Reduced incidence of depression

Weight status

  • Reduced risk of excessive weight gain
  • Weight loss and the prevention of weight regain following initial weight loss when a sufficient dose of moderate-to vigorous physical activity is attained
  • An additive effect on weight loss when combined with moderate dietary restriction

2) Older adults


  • Reduced incidence of falls
  • Reduced incidence of fall-related injuries

Physical function

  • Improved physical function in older adults with and without frailty

3) Women who are pregnant or postpartum

3.1 During pregnancy

  • Reduced risk of excessive weight gain
  • Reduced risk of gestational diabetes
  • No risk to foetus from moderate-intensity physical activity

3.2 During postpartum

  • Reduced risk of postpartum depression

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