Legendary athlete Milkha Singh was on Friday appointed the World Health Organisation's goodwill ambassador for physical activity in the South-East Asia Region (SEAR), the WHO confirmed in a statement.
"Promoting physical activity for health is an important intervention, which is expected to get a significant boost in the region with the support of octogenarian Milkha Singh, a champion for the cause," said Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia.
"Whatever the age group, gender, physical ability, or socio-economic background, being physically active is an effective way to ensure a healthy and productive life.
"With support of Milkha Singh, we expect to promote and scale up physical activity in the region to be able to arrest and reverse the non-communicable diseases (NCD) epidemic," she said.
As goodwill ambassador, Milkha Singh will promote WHO SEARâ€™s non-communicable diseases (NCDs) prevention and control action plan, which aims to reduce the level of insufficient physical activity by 10% and NCDs by 25% by 2025.
Singh pointed to the fact that an alarming 70% of boys, 80% of girls and nearly 33% adults in the SEAR are engaged in insufficient physical activity.
She added that an estimated 8.5 million people die due to NCDs every year in WHO South-East Asia region. Many of these deaths are premature and nearly all are lifestyle related.
As per WHO recommendations, to avoid non-communicable diseases, at least 60 minutes of physical activity for children daily and 150 minutes of activity for adultsâ€™ weekly are stipulated.
(With IANS inputs)