Lack of exercise puts one in four people at risk, WHO says

Researchers found there had been no improvement in physical activity levels since 2001

Researchers found there had been no improvement in physical activity levels since 2001

The data show that if current trends continue, the 2025 global activity target of a 10% relative reduction in insufficient physical activity will not be met.

There's a decent chance that you, and many people in other countries, aren't getting the recommended amount of exercise, according to a study published Wednesday in The Lancet Global Health. Researchers found little progress in improving physical activity levels between 2001 and 2016 despite a World Health Organization goal of a 10 percent reduction by 2025.

They found in high-income countries, which include the United Kingdom and the U.S., 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%. East and Southeast Asia, for example, saw physical inactivity percentages decline from around 26% in 2001 to about 17% in 2016, driven largely by growing enthusiasm for recreational exercise and use of public parks in China, the authors write.

The study is based on self-reported activity levels - including at work, home, and in transit, as well as during leisure time - for those aged 18 and above, from 358 population-based surveys in 168 countries, consisting of around 1.9 million people.

Around the globe, about one in three women and almost one in four men does not exercise enough to avoid common diseases, a new report shows.

A new study suggests the global trend of inadequate physical activity levels is getting worse, with no real improvements since 2001.

Walter R. Thompson, an associate dean and a professor of kinesiology and health at Georgia State University, said that the study's most important point is that "physical inactivity is pandemic and not a characteristic of low-income or high-income countries".

FYI, according to the study the most inactive country is Kuwait - 67 percent of adults fail to meet the physical activity target.

Find out more about the Ministry of Health's Physical Activity Guidelines which help New Zealanders understand the importance of physical activity. Among low-income countries, there was only a 0.2 percent increase in physical inactivity, from 16 percent to 16.2 percent.

"We can not just tell people that they need to exercise more; it does not work", Thompson said. Countries will need to improve policy implementation to increase physical activity opportunities and encourage more people to be physically active. That's because a lack of exercise increases one's risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, cholesterol, and body weight.

Insufficient physical activity is a leading risk factor for non-communicable diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, and has a negative effect on mental health and quality of life, the report authored by four WHO experts says. As a next step the researchers would work on assessing the levels of activities among the children and youth. People in poorer nations are more than twice as active as their counterparts in high-income nations.

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