The legend sprinter Milkha Singh got appointed as the World Health Organisation’s goodwill ambassador for physical activity in South-East Asia Region (SEAR).

As goodwill ambassador Milkha Singh will promote WHO SEAR’s non-communicable diseases (NCDs) prevention and control action plan which aims to reduce the level of insufficient physical activity by 10 per cent and NCDs by 25 per cent by 2025.

Regular exercise and physical activity help reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases such as heart diseases, stroke, diabetes and cancer – that are now increasingly afflicting people across the world.An estimated 8.5 million people die due to non-communicable diseases every year in WHO South-East Asia Region and many of these deaths are premature and nearly all are lifestyle related.

Today, insufficient physical activity which is becoming a common feature of modern life.According to WHO at least 60 minutes of physical activity is needed for  children daily and 150 minutes of activity for adults weekly to stay away  from non-communicable diseases.

Physical activity helps to maintain cognitive functioning and reduce the risk of depression. To facilitate this, WHO has also been advocating with governments to create public spaces for recreational and organised sport. It has been advocating for physical activity as a “best buy” intervention for reducing the risk of deaths due to NCDs.

Milkha Singh is a Padma Shri awardee and had won medals in athletics in Commonwealth and Asian games. He had missed a bronze medal by a whisker in the 1960 Rome Olympics.