Sedentary Lifestyle Is As Hazardous As Smoking

Olomouc experts at the conference in Thailand. From the left: Jan Dygrýn, Josef Mitáš, Aleš Gába, Jana Pelclová, Lukáš Rubín, Zdeněk Hamřík, and Michal Kudláček.
saturday 10. december 2016, 8:55 – Text: Martin Višňa

Physical inactivity is the number four factor in terms of the global death rate, associated with three million deaths annually. Sitting is the new smoking – this was one of the ideas presented at the International Congress on Physical Activity and Public Health in Bangkok, Thailand. The Czech Republic was represented by experts from the UP Faculty of Physical Culture.

The conference is a major global event in the field of human movement science, attended by 1100 delegates from 80 countries. The presented their research findings in the area of active lifestyle, with the emphasis on increasing the degree of physical activity, decreasing the degree of sedentary behaviour, and linking research and practice.

“The congress participants accepted The Bangkok Declaration on Physical Activity for Global Health and Sustainable Development. This is the first global attempt to achieve the goals set within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by the UN,“ said one of the Olomouc representatives, Zdeněk Hamřík.

The findings obtained worldwide have confirmed that cities and their management have a key role in active living – in terms of transport, education, and urban planning policies. The key themes include the support of walking, cycling, and public transport over cars. Other themes encompass taking active breaks in schools, improved physical culture, better access to school sporting grounds, and the establishment and maintenance of public parks with the aim to support physical activities and a healthy lifestyle.

“Apart from the support of an active lifestyle we need to focus on significant shortening of the time spent sitting. According to the majority of studies, the time spent in a sedentary way is a strong and independent risk factor in a person’s lifestyle. The conference clearly voiced the concern that 45 minutes spent in a fitness centre cannot fully compensate the health risks of eight-hours’ sitting at work. It is such a huge issue that sitting was dubbed the new smoking,” added Hamřík.

Dr. Zdeněk Hamřík works at the Faculty of Physical Culture, Palacký University Olomouc, also leading a work group responsible for the National Strategy for Support of Physical Activity in the Czech Republic. The faculty is also the guarantor of globally acknowledged study, Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC), which focuses on an active lifestyle for school children and is the most downloaded study by the WHO.

The Czech Republic was also represented at the conference in Thailand by other faculty members, such as Docent Josef Mitáš from the Institute for Active Lifestyle, a member of the international research group IPEN, investigating the impact of the environment on the level of physical activity.