Status and Trends of Physical Activity Surveillance, Policy, and Research in 164 Countries: Findings From the Global Observatory for Physical Activity—GoPA! 2015 and 2020 Surveys

Author First name, Last name, Institution

Andrea Ramírez Varela, Facultad de Medicina
Pedro C. Hallal, Universidade Federal de Pelotas
Juliana Mejía Grueso, Facultad de Medicina
Željko Pedišić, Victoria University Melbourne, Institute for Health and Sport
Deborah Salvo, The University of Texas at Austin
Anita Nguyen, UC San Diego School of Medicine
Bojana Klepac, Victoria University Melbourne, Institute for Health and Sport
Adrian Bauman, The University of Sydney School of Public Health
Katja Siefken, MSH Medical School Hamburg
Erica Hinckson, Auckland University of Technology
Adewale L. Oyeyemi, Redeemer‘s University
Justin Richards, Victoria University of Wellington
Elena Daniela Salih Khidir, Aspetar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital
Shigeru Inoue, Tokyo Medical University
Shiho Amagasa, Tokyo Medical University
Alejandra Jauregui, Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública. México
Marcelo Cozzensa da Silva, Universidade Federal de Pelotas
I. Min Lee, Harvard Medical School
Melody Ding, The University of Sydney School of Public Health
Harold W. Kohl, The University of Texas at Austin
Ulf Ekelund, Norges idrettshøgskole
Gregory W. Heath, University of Tennessee College of Medicine Chattanooga
Kenneth E. Powell, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Charlie Foster, University of Bristol
Aamir Raoof Memon, Victoria University Melbourne, Institute for Health and Sport
Abdoulaye Doumbia, National Institute of Youth and Sports Mali
Abdul Roof Rather, Central University of Kashmir
Abdur Razzaque, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research Bangladesh

Document Type


Source of Publication

Journal of Physical Activity and Health

Publication Date



Background: Physical activity (PA) surveillance, policy, and research efforts need to be periodically appraised to gain insight into national and global capacities for PA promotion. The aim of this paper was to assess the status and trends in PA surveillance, policy, and research in 164 countries. Methods: We used data from the Global Observatory for Physical Activity (GoPA!) 2015 and 2020 surveys. Comprehensive searches were performed for each country to determine the level of development of their PA surveillance, policy, and research, and the findings were verified by the GoPA! Country Contacts. Trends were analyzed based on the data available for both survey years. Results: The global 5-year progress in all 3 indicators was modest, with most countries either improving or staying at the same level. PA surveillance, policy, and research improved or remained at a high level in 48.1%, 40.6%, and 42.1% of the countries, respectively. PA surveillance, policy, and research scores decreased or remained at a low level in 8.3%, 15.8%, and 28.6% of the countries, respectively. The highest capacity for PA promotion was found in Europe, the lowest in Africa and low- and lower-middle-income countries. Although a large percentage of the world’s population benefit from at least some PA policy, surveillance, and research efforts in their countries, 49.6 million people are without PA surveillance, 629.4 million people are without PA policy, and 108.7 million live in countries without any PA research output. A total of 6.3 billion people or 88.2% of the world’s population live in countries where PA promotion capacity should be significantly improved. Conclusion: Despite PA is essential for health, there are large inequalities between countries and world regions in their capacity to promote PA. Coordinated efforts are needed to reduce the inequalities and improve the global capacity for PA promotion.




Human Kinetics





First Page


Last Page



Medicine and Health Sciences


epidemiology, guidelines and recommendations, health promotion, measurement, public health practice

Scopus ID


Indexed in Scopus


Open Access


Open Access Type

Green: A manuscript of this publication is openly available in a repository