According to the report of the National Program for the Promotion of Physical Activity (PNPAF), of the Directorate-General for Health (DGS), for 2021, since digital tools were made available for the assessment of physical activity (end of 2017) more than 261 thousand consultations with this information, 23.2% of which in the last year.
The document, released on World Physical Activity Day, says that, following the evaluations, 42,645 brief advice guides were issued to promote physical activity (+18% in one year).
It also says that between 2017 and 2019 there was a “quite expressive” increase in the proportion of users evaluated at national level, reaching a peak in 2019 (1,031 users evaluated per 100,000) and that in the years 2020 and 2021, “coinciding with the period of a pandemic due to covid-19 and the greater volume of work resulting from health professionals, this value was reduced to 2/3”.
According to the report, however, it was possible to identify “an upward trend in this indicator in 2021 on the part of ARS Norte and ARS Algarve”.
Regarding the level of physical activity of users aged 15 years and over, and at the time of the first assessment, the levels recorded in reveal that 32.8% of the users evaluated reached the recommendation to practice at least two and a half hours (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity physical activity per week.
As in representative population studies, the level of weekly physical activity decreases with increasing age and men are more active throughout the life cycle.
Regarding the levels of sedentary behavior of users aged 15 or over, data from users evaluated for the first time in the period 2017-2021 reveal that about half reported spending four or more hours sitting a day (median), with the exception of 30-69 age category, who reported spending three hours or more (median).
The age group with the highest volume of daily sitting time is 15 to 29 years old (25% spend seven or more hours a day sitting), followed by the 70 or older group (21%) and, finally, the age group between 30 and 69 years old (15.1%).
According to the DGS, the result of the use of digital assessment and counseling tools, integrated in the electronic consultation support systems, in Primary Health Care shows that, between 2017 and 2021, “users to whom a second and third evaluation was carried out of physical activity showed a trend towards an increase in their level of physical activity over time”.
The document recalls that scientific evidence indicates that about 10% of cases of colon cancer, 10% of cases of breast cancer, 7% of cases of diabetes and 6% of cases of coronary heart disease in the world population can be prevented with levels of physical activity “compatible with global recommendations” and adds that 9% of premature death could also be avoided.
Data published in 2020 from the latest Global Burden of Disease study on the burden of disease and mortality attributed to major health risk factors between 1990 and 2019 indicate that insufficient physical activity is the 16th level 2 risk factor which the most deaths are attributed and the 18th to which the most prematurely lost health years are attributed.
In addition to its fundamental preventive role – the report insists -, the practice of physical activity contributes to delaying the progression of several chronic non-communicable diseases, “namely of seven important groups of pathologies: cardiovascular, oncological, pulmonary, metabolic, psychiatric, neurological and musculoskeletal”.
It underlines the importance of having public health policies that translate a “strong strategy” to reduce health inequalities and recalls the new global recommendations for physical activity and sedentary behavior, launched in 2020 by the World Health Organization, according to which “ every move counts.”
“In light of the new scientific evidence (information), all physical activity, regardless of the consecutive duration of each period of practice, has positive impacts on health”, he emphasizes.
It also says that, despite a “very slight increase” in the incidence of use of these digital counseling tools between 2020 and 2021, “there is a clear need to promote these practices in health care over the next few years”.
In terms of goals for the future, the report defines the need to continue to promote health literacy throughout the life cycle and points to the reactivation of the national campaign “Follow the Assobio — Physical activity calls for itself”.
It also suggests improving the quality of the offer of opportunities for physical activity in different contexts.
SO // JMR