Worldwide Surveillance, Policy, and Research on Physical Activity and Health: The Global Observatory for Physical Activity

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
Restricted access

Purchase article

USD $24.95

Student 1 year subscription

USD $115.00

1 year subscription

USD $153.00

Student 2 year subscription

USD $218.00

2 year subscription

USD $285.00


The Global Observatory for Physical Activity (GoPA!) was launched in response to the physical inactivity pandemic. The aim of this article is to present current information about surveillance, policy, and research on physical activity (PA) and health worldwide.


Information was collected for 217 countries. For 139 of these nations we identified a contact who confirmed information’s accuracy and completeness. Associations were calculated among surveillance, policy and research categories.


Of the 139 countries, 90.6% reported having completed 1 or more PA survey, but less than one-third had 3 or more. 106 included PA on a national plan, but only one-quarter of these were PA-specific. At least 1 peer reviewed publication was identified for 63.3% of the countries. Positive associations (P < .001) were found between research and policy (ρ = 0.35), research and surveillance (ρ = 0.41), and surveillance and policy (ρ = 0.31). Countries with a standalone plan were more likely to have surveillance. Countries with more research were more likely to have a standalone plan and surveillance.


Surveillance, policy, and research indicators were positively correlated, suggesting that action at multiple levels tends to stimulate progress in other areas. Efforts to expand PA-related surveillance, policy, and research in lower income countries are needed.

Ramirez Varela, Martins, and Hallal are with the Post-graduate Program in Epidemiology, Federal University of Pelotas, Brazil. Pratt is with the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine. Powell is retired from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA. Lee is with the Harvard Medical School, T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Bauman is with the Sydney School of Public Health, University of Sydney. Heath is with the College of Medicine, University of Tennessee, Chattanooga. Kohl is with the University of Texas Health Science Center–Houston, Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living, University of Texas at Austin.

Ramirez Varela ( is corresponding author.