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World Health Organization advises that lack of exercise puts one in four people at risk

World Health Organization advises that lack of exercise puts one in four people at risk
September 5, 2018

A new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than a quarter of people worldwide - 1.4 billion - are not doing enough physical exercise.

Researchers from the World Health Organization (WHO) looked at self-reported data on activity from 358 population-based surveys in 168 countries, including 1.9 million people, for their study in The Lancet Global Health.

They found in high-income countries - such as Australia and the UK - the proportion of inactive people had risen from 32% in 2001 to 37% in 2016, while in low-income countries it had remained stable at 16%.

Those who were classed as inactive did less than 150 minutes of moderate exercise - or 75 minutes at a vigorous intensity - a week.

Countries driving the upwards trend included Germany, New Zealand and the USA.

Women were less active than men in all but East and South-East Asia, with the biggest differences being in South Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, north Africa and high-income Western countries.

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.

As reported by the BBC, the transition in wealthier countries towards more sedentary jobs and hobbies, along with increased use of motor transport, might explain their higher levels of inactivity.

In lower-income countries people are more likely to be active in their jobs and walk or use public transport.

The report's authors warned that the current trend would see the WHO's 2025 target of reducing global inactivity by 10% missed.

Dr Regina Guthold, lead author of the study from the WHO, told the BBC "Unlike other major global health risks, levels of insufficient physical activity are not falling worldwide, on average, and over a quarter of all adults are not reaching the recommended levels of physical activity for good health.

"Regions with increasing levels of insufficient physical activity are a major concern for public health and the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases."

Co-author Dr Fiona Bull, also from the WHO, stated “addressing these inequalities in physical activity levels between men and women will be critical to achieving global activity targets and will require interventions to promote and improve women's access to opportunities that are safe, affordable and culturally acceptable."

The countries with the highest rates of inactivity were: Kuwait 67%, Saudi Arabia 53% and Iraq 52%.

The countries with the least inactivity were Uganda and Mozambique at 6%

The report calls on governments to provide and maintain infrastructure that promoted sports and increased walking and cycling for transport.

Dr Melody Ding, from the University of Sydney, who was not involved in the study, said that while economic development led to lifestyle changes that increased sedentary behaviour, governments could do more to help people be more active, such as improving public transport and making it easier to walk and cycle.

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10th October 2015 - Rise in obesity hits United Nations goals on diet-related diseases

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12th June 2015 - Australian workers unfit, overweight, stressed and at risk

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26th February 2014 - World Health Organization presents Dubai forum to promote physical activity

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4th July 2013 - Australian netball program wins World Health Organisation award

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23rd April 2011 - Leisure Inc. tackles child obesity in Bahrain


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