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Join the #MovementForMovement

Note: This blog has been updated and was originally published on November 2018 on PLOS’ Global Health Blog.

Ann B. Gates of Exercise Works! announces a free online course (Exercise and Health) to educate healthcare professionals on appropriate interventions to improve patients through physical activity 

Physical inactivity has been identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a leading risk factor for mortality causing an estimated 3.2 million deaths globally. In a positive move to decrease physical inactivity, WHO Member States, together with the World Heart Federation (WHF), aim to reduce insufficient physical activity by 10% by 2025 and achieve a 15% relative reduction in the global prevalence of physical inactivity in adults and adolescents by 2030.

This vision will be achieved by ensuring all people have access to safe and enabling activity environments that provide diverse opportunities to be physically active in daily life. Promoting and supporting physical activity also serves as a means for improving individual and community health and contributes to the social, cultural and economic development of all nations.

The role of national and global health care professionals and community outreach workers in translating the importance of physical activity as a medicine, is an area of emerging research and action. This critical health intervention is relevant in both high- (HICs) and low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), where we know that disease, immobility and death from noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and physical inactivity are significant and increasing burdens.

The World Health Organization has produced a Global Action Plan for Physical Activity (GAPPA) 2018-2030. A key objective of this plan is the upskilling of all health care professionals globally. Through increased education and resources, health care workers can become more confident and capable in providing appropriate physical activity and exercise advice and options for patients and their communities to help them meet recommended healthy guidelines. This approach equips physical activity advocates, healthcare professionals and other health workers to promote fun, inclusive, and safe activities that are tailored to the individual’s health status, ability, environment, and cultural context – increasing the likelihood of intervention uptake, sustainability and effectiveness.

To support the achievement of this ambitious WHO action plan, a free Open Online Course will continue the global effort to improve and increase physical activity knowledge and skills among health care professions. The course has been designed to communicate the scale and impact of the problem of physical inactivity; highlight the important role physical inactivity plays as a risk factor for noncommunicable disease; and showcase the benefits of exercise in treatment and prevention. Course participants will also be encouraged to undertake and evaluate interventions in their own settings.

International experts in exercise and health will help participants work through the resources in the course, as well as engage with the online discussion forums.

The course itself (also known as a massive, open, online course or MOOC) is the result of a team effort between Ann Gates of Exercise Works! and the Peoples-uni. The Peoples-uni has 10 years of experience in delivering online education for health professionals from more than 100 countries.  Both organisations are motivated by the shared purpose that every contact with health care professionals should count when it comes to the promotion of physical activity and prevention and control of NCDs.

As knowledge access can often be inequitable, this free online resource provides an international level playing field to share knowledge and experiences – a unique feature that its co-creators are especially excited about. By inviting diverse experts to join the #MovementforMovement, we may get a step (hop, skip or jump) closer to spreading the message that physical activity has multiple health benefits and that evidence-based effective and feasible actions can be taken to help all people live healthy, active lives.

How to register?

You can register for the free Exercise and Health course today at

Course name: Exercise and Health

Start date: Ongoing since 2016

Course duration: Students can access the course within their own timeframes

Course structure: Extensive online evaluated resources, discussion forums, social media conversations using #MovementForMovement


Ann B. Gates is an Honorary Visiting Professor Plymouth Marjon University, Honorary Associate Professor at The University of Nottingham, a World Heart Federation Emerging Leader’s Programme 2014-2018, a Certified NHS Change Agent and Founder and CEO of Exercise Works! The mission is to enable fun, physical activity to be available and equitable for all, cradle to grave. Ann is also a passionate supporter of equity for all.

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