1.4 billion risk disease from lack of exercise

Research shows there was little progress in improving physical activity levels between 2001 and 2016

Research shows there was little progress in improving physical activity levels between 2001 and 2016

With richer nations enjoying an increasingly comfortable, sedentary lifestyle, the study says a third of women and a quarter of men worldwide are in the firing line for killer conditions unless they up their physical activity.

In 2016, almost one-third of women and one-quarter of men worldwide did not get the recommended levels of physical activity to stay healthy, the researchers found.

People in high income countries, which include the United Kingdom and the United States, are more inactive (37%) compared to middle income (26%) and low income countries (16%).

Women were less active than men in all regions of the world, apart from east and southeast Asia.

Globally 27 per cent of people do not take enough exercise, compared with 36 per cent in Britain.

"On average, and over a quarter of all adults are not reaching the recommended levels of physical activity for good health".

"This puts more than 1.4 billion adults at risk of developing or exacerbating diseases linked to inactivity, and needs to be urgently addressed", read an excerpt from the study, which also notes declines in mental health and quality of life for people who don't exercise enough.

However, changing physical characteristics of a community may not be enough: Gregory Knell, a researcher at the University of Texas School of Public Health in Dallas, recently published a study on whether improving sidewalks might lead to more physical activity.


China and Russian Federation had relatively low ratios of physically inactive adults at 14 percent and 17 percent, respectively. Uganda and Mozambique had the best records of exercising adults: Just 6% of adults in each of those countries did not do enough physical activity in 2016.

Guthold said levels of physical activity were not reducing worldwide "unlike other major global health risks".

The Lancet, a British medical journal, ahead of World Obesity Day in October previous year, indicated the rise in obesity rates in low and middle income countries.

"One way to explain sex differences in activity is to assess male and female participation in different domains of activity (activity at work or in the household, for transport, and during leisure time), and at different intensities (moderate and vigorous)", the authors wrote.

The authors said this was likely to have been caused by a combination of factors, including extra childcare duties and cultural attitudes that made it harder for them to exercise.

A World Health Organization report estimates that more than a quarter of people worldwide - 1.4 billion - are not doing enough physical exercise, a figure that has barely improved since 2001. Countries will need to improve policy implementation to increase physical activity opportunities and encourage more people to be physically active.

Multiple studies have shown exercise along with a healthy diet can lower the risk of health problems such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

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