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World Health Organization 2020 guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behaviour
  1. Fiona C Bull1,2,
  2. Salih S Al-Ansari3,
  3. Stuart Biddle4,
  4. Katja Borodulin5,6,
  5. Matthew P Buman7,
  6. Greet Cardon8,
  7. Catherine Carty9,10,
  8. Jean-Philippe Chaput11,
  9. Sebastien Chastin12,
  10. Roger Chou13,
  11. Paddy C Dempsey14,15,
  12. Loretta DiPietro16,
  13. Ulf Ekelund17,18,
  14. Joseph Firth19,20,
  15. Christine M Friedenreich21,
  16. Leandro Garcia22,
  17. Muthoni Gichu23,
  18. Russell Jago24,
  19. Peter T Katzmarzyk25,
  20. Estelle Lambert26,
  21. Michael Leitzmann27,
  22. Karen Milton28,
  23. Francisco B Ortega29,
  24. Chathuranga Ranasinghe30,
  25. Emmanuel Stamatakis31,
  26. Anne Tiedemann32,
  27. Richard P Troiano33,
  28. Hidde P van der Ploeg34,35,
  29. Vicky Wari36,
  30. Juana F Willumsen1
  1. 1Physical Activity Unit, Department of Health Promotion, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
  2. 2School of Human Sciences, The University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
  3. 3Health Promotion Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  4. 4Centre for Health Research, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia
  5. 5Age Institute, Helsinki, Finland
  6. 6Public Health Evaluation and Projection Unit, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Uusimaa, Finland
  7. 7College of Health Solutions, Arizona State University, Phoenix, Arizona, USA
  8. 8Department of Movement and Sports Sciences, Ghent University, Belgium
  9. 9Institute of Technology Tralee, Tralee, Co Kerry, Ireland
  10. 10UNESCO Chair of Transforming the Lives of People with Disabilities, their Families and Communities, Through Physical Education, Sport, Recreation and Fitness
  11. 11Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, Department of Pediatrics, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  12. 12School of Health and Life Sciences, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK
  13. 13Departments of Medicine, and Medical Informatics & Clinical Epidemiology, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon, USA
  14. 14MRC Epidemiology Unit, School of Clinical Medicine, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK
  15. 15Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, VIC 3004, Australia; Diabetes Research Centre, University of Leicester, Leicester General Hospital, Leicester, UK
  16. 16Department of Exercise and Nutrition Science, Milken Institute School of Public Health, The George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA
  17. 17Department of Sport Medicine, Norwegian School of Sport Science, Oslo, Norway
  18. 18Department of Chronic Diseases and Ageing, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway
  19. 19NICM Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University, Penrith, New South Wales, Australia
  20. 20Division of Psychology and Mental Health, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  21. 21Department of Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Research, CancerControl Alberta, Alberta Health Services, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  22. 22Centre for Public Health, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, UK
  23. 23Department of Non-Commuicable Diseases, Ministry of Health, Nairobi, Kenya
  24. 24Centre for Exercise, Nutrition & Health Science, School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  25. 25Population and Public Health Sciences, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA
  26. 26Research Centre for Health through Physical Activity, Lifestyle and Sport, Division of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, Department of Human Biology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
  27. 27Department ofEpidemiology and Preventive Medicine, University of Regensburg, Germany
  28. 28Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, UK
  29. 29PROFITH (PROmoting FITness and Health through physical activity) research group, Department of Physical Education and Sports, Faculty of Sport Sciences, Research Institute of Sport and Health, University of Granada, Spain
  30. 30Sports and Exercise Medicine Unit and Department of Allied Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, Colombo, Sri Lanka
  31. 31Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney, School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  32. 32Institute for Musculoskeletal Health, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  33. 33Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
  34. 34Department of Public and Occupational Health, Amsterdam Public Health Research Institute, Amsterdam Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  35. 35Prevention Research Collaboration, School of Public Health, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  36. 36National Department of Health, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
  1. Correspondence to Professor Fiona C Bull, Physical Activity Unit, Department of Health Promotion, World Health Organization, Geneva, GE, Switzerland; bullf{at}


Objectives To describe new WHO 2020 guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behaviour.

Methods The guidelines were developed in accordance with WHO protocols. An expert Guideline Development Group reviewed evidence to assess associations between physical activity and sedentary behaviour for an agreed set of health outcomes and population groups. The assessment used and systematically updated recent relevant systematic reviews; new primary reviews addressed additional health outcomes or subpopulations.

Results The new guidelines address children, adolescents, adults, older adults and include new specific recommendations for pregnant and postpartum women and people living with chronic conditions or disability. All adults should undertake 150–300 min of moderate-intensity, or 75–150 min of vigorous-intensity physical activity, or some equivalent combination of moderate-intensity and vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, per week. Among children and adolescents, an average of 60 min/day of moderate-to-vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity across the week provides health benefits. The guidelines recommend regular muscle-strengthening activity for all age groups. Additionally, reducing sedentary behaviours is recommended across all age groups and abilities, although evidence was insufficient to quantify a sedentary behaviour threshold.

Conclusion These 2020 WHO guidelines update previous WHO recommendations released in 2010. They reaffirm messages that some physical activity is better than none, that more physical activity is better for optimal health outcomes and provide a new recommendation on reducing sedentary behaviours. These guidelines highlight the importance of regularly undertaking both aerobic and muscle strengthening activities and for the first time, there are specific recommendations for specific populations including for pregnant and postpartum women and people living with chronic conditions or disability. These guidelines should be used to inform national health policies aligned with the WHO Global Action Plan on Physical Activity 2018–2030 and to strengthen surveillance systems that track progress towards national and global targets.

  • prevention
  • health promotion
  • non-communicable disease
  • physical activity
  • public health

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  • Contributors All authors were involved in conceptualising the paper, drafting, revisions and editing and final review. FB led the overall development of the paper. JW and FB led the drafting of the method section. All authors reviewed and approved the final paper.

  • Funding The Public Health Agency of Canada and the Government of Norway provided financial support, without which this work could not have been completed.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research. Refer to the 'Methods' section for further details.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval This study was approved by the WHO Guidelines Review Committee in August 2020.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article. Further details, including the evidence profile tables summarising the evidence used for all recommendations, are available from WHO.