A review of global surveillance on the muscle strengthening and balance elements of physical activity recommendations.

17 May 2018

INTRODUCTION: Despite the importance of muscle strengthening and balance activities for health, these elements of the physical activity recommendations are often omitted from communication campaigns and national surveillance systems. This paper reviews national physical activity surveillance systems to determine which tools assess muscle strengthening and balance activities. METHODS: We reviewed each tool that was used to inform the Global Observatory for Physical Activity (GoPA) country card prevalence estimates. RESULTS: Of the 139 countries with GoPA country cards, 21 countries reported having no physical activity prevalence data. The prevalence estimates for 74 countries came from the World Health Organization 2014 Global Status Report on Non-Communicable Diseases. For the remaining 44 countries, a range of national and international surveys were used. A limited number of tools sought to assess muscle strengthening activities, and even fewer assessed balance and coordination activities. DISCUSSION: Several issues arise from this review, including the need to: verify the strength of the evidence to inform whether muscle strength and balance should be given equal prominence to the aerobic recommendation; establish which activities count towards different aspects of the guidelines; and confirm whether the muscle strengthening and balance components of the guidelines are 'in addition' to the aerobic component.