September 23, 2018

No exercise puts adults at risk of disease worldwide: WHO, Lancet study

08 September 2018, 01:15 | Rodolfo Wallace

Quarter of world's population 'not active enough to stay healthy'

The WHO study has highlighted a health equity issue where women face more environmental social and cultural barriers to participate in physical activity

For example, Western countries saw the highest increase in insufficient activity, from 31 percent in 2001 to 37 percent in 2016.

Nearly one in three women (32%) were physically inactive in 2016, compared to just one in four (23%) men.

Countries with the worst physical activity record included Kuwait, American Samoa, a U.S. territory in the South Pacific, Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

Dr Guthold added: "Regions with increasing levels of insufficient physical activity are a major concern for public health and the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases".

The study also found that more men than women in Singapore meet the recommended weekly targets for physical activity, although both genders still lag behind the global average.

The new Global Action Plan on Physical Activity sets the target to reduce physical inactivity by 10% by 2025 and 15% by 2030.

Participants were asked to self-report their activity levels at home, at work, and during travel and leisure time. In 2016, around 32 percent of women and 23 percent of men - that's one in three women and one in four men - did not reach that goal.

Adults are generally encouraged to do 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week.

The data published Tuesday in the journal Lancet Global Health found 28 percent of adults globally don't exercise, a figure left unchanged from 2001.

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In wealthier countries, the researchers said, a transition toward more sedentary jobs as well as sedentary forms of recreation and transport could explain higher levels of inactivity.

Around 1.4 billion adults are not physically active enough to stay healthy, says the research.

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

Steven Ward, chief executive of the charity UK Active, said: "Inactivity is the cause of 20,000 premature deaths in the UK each..."

Across regions, many individual countries recorded large differences in insufficient activity between women and men.

Women do worse than men, with 40 per cent not taking enough exercise, according to data gathered by the World Health Organisation.

The authors called for a significant increase in national action is urgently needed in most countries to scale-up implementation of effective policies.

Guthold said that countries and communities alike can address descending levels of exercise by "creating new opportunities and programs to support and engage people to be more active". In it, she said in certain parts of the world women face more environmental, social and cultural barriers to participate in physical activity.

The results suggested "that improving sidewalks was not sufficient to increase physical activity among those who are inactive, whereas for those who are already active, living near improved sidewalks was associated with increases in reported leisure-time and walking activity".

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