Analysis of national physical activity and sedentary behaviour policies in China

Sitong Chen, Jintao Hong, Karen Milton, Bojana Klepac, Jiani Ma, Zeljko Pedisic

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Purpose: The aims of this study were to advance knowledge on physical activity (PA) and sedentary behaviour (SB) policies in China and to highlight related gaps and opportunities in the Chinese policy landscape.

Methods: Literature and web-based searches were performed to identify national PA and SB policies in China. We assessed which of the 17 elements of the Health-Enhancing Physical Activity Policy Audit Tool (HEPA PAT, version 2) are included in each of the policy documents and whether and how they address the ‘cornerstones’ of PA and SB policy: PA and SB guidelines, targets, surveillance and monitoring, and public education programmes.

Results: We found 60 national PA and SB policies, of which 54 focused on PA only and 6 focused on both PA and SB. There was a rapid increase in the number of policies issued between 2002 and 2021. In totality, the policies include all 17 key elements for a successful national policy approach to PA promotion according to the HEPA PAT. The policies reflect engagement from a range of sectors and encompass PA targets, recommendations for PA and SB, mandates and recommendations for school-related PA, plans for public education on PA, and plans for surveillance and monitoring of PA and SB.

Conclusion: Our findings demonstrate that there has been increasing focus on PA and SB policies in China, which reflects efforts by policymakers to address the health burden of insufficient PA and excessive SB. More emphasis may be placed on SB in Chinese policy, particularly in terms of setting specific targets for population SB. Policymakers and other relevant public health stakeholders in China could also consider developing or adopting the 24-hour movement guidelines, in accordance with recent trends in several other countries. Collaboration and involvement of different sectors in the development and implementation of Chinese PA and SB policies should continue to be facilitated as part of a whole-of-system approach to health promotion.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1024
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2023


  • China
  • Health policy
  • Physical inactivity
  • Policy audit
  • Policy landscape

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