La sédentarité, véritable enjeu sociétal

Sunday 14 April 2019

The WHO defines physical activity as “any movement produced by skeletal muscles, responsible for an increase in energy expenditure” (1). This includes both sporting activities, but also all activities of daily life requiring movement, both in the professional and recreational contexts. Physical activity is therefore opposed to physical inactivity. 

Globally, one in four adults lacks exercise and more than 80% of adolescents do not have a sufficient level of physical activity. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), physical inactivity is the cause of 2 million deaths worldwide each year and many chronic diseases.

Similarly, physical inactivity is responsible for about 10% of deaths in Europe.

The cost of physical inactivity is estimated at $67.5 billion (£52 billion) per year, representing $53.8 billion in health care spending and $13.7 billion in lost productivity.

Physical and sporting activity has been recognised as drug-free therapy by the High Authority of Health (HAS) since 2011. Following the work and numerous experiments carried out, in particular within the framework of the 2012-2018 National Sport Health and Well-being Plan, the law of 26 January 2016 modernising our health system introduced the possibility for the attending physician to prescribe a physical activity adapted to patients suffering from a Long-Term Illness (LTI), as part of the care regimen.

It is for this reason that the national health strategy for the period 2018-2022, defined by Decree No. 2017-1866 of the 29 December 2017, recognises physical activity as a preventive factor and encourages the development of the practice while ensuring its conditions of delivery. (Source: SNSS).

The benefits of physical activity in the general population are not limited to an increase in physical abilities (strength, endurance, balance). Indeed, scientists are increasingly interested in the various positive aspects of sport in general. We also find in the literature/academia?: a reduction in depressive symptoms, confirmed by recent meta-analyses, which are in line with a recommendation of physical activity in the management of depressive symptoms. The positive effects are also found in somatic diseases.

Physical activity is recognised as a major element in the management of patients with type 2 diabetes. 

In cancerous diseases, physical activity also improves all stages of the disease. In primary prevention, its regular practice leads to a reduction in the incidence of colon cancer (by around 20 to 25%) and breast cancer, and probably of endometrial, lung, pancreatic, ovarian and prostate cancers. In secondary prevention, in cancer patients, the beneficial effects are an improvement in mental health and physical well-being: reduction of asthenia, increase in physical capacities and an improvement in quality of life. 

Other benefits are also found on the osteoarticular system (reduced risk of osteoporosis) and on weight control, as well as on cognitive functions. 

More generally, physical activity has been positively linked to a better quality of life relative to health status.   

Finally, physical activity can reduce mortality by 14% to 35% compared to sedentary subjects, depending on the level of physical activity.