More than a quarter of the world's adults don't move enough

Pearl Mccarthy
September 8, 2018

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has revealed that a quarter of the world's population is at increased risk of many life-threatening diseases.

Physical activity - which includes all everyday movement, not just exercise - lowers the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, some forms of cancer and dementia, and improves mental health and weight control.

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.

"Although a recent NCD policy survey showed that nearly three quarters of countries report having a policy or action plan to tackle physical inactivity, few have been implemented to have national impact", Bull said. For the study, that was published in The Lancet Public Health, researchers took into account activity-related data from 358 surveys.

The results showed that in 2016, nearly one in three women (32%) and 23% men from the global population didn't spend the recommended physical activity for a healthy lifestyle (150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of high intensity of physical activity per week).

Women were less active than men, with an over 8% difference at the global level (32% men vs 23%, women). In less well-off countries, people tend to be more active at work and for transport, they said.

Experts say the results are concerning because they imply that federal health initiatives don't have a big impact on physical activity in Americans.

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WHO's Dr Regina Guthold, who led the research, said: "Unlike other major global health risks, levels of insufficient physical activity are not falling worldwide, on average". According to reports the doctors have warned that in about two decades the global activity levels have remained virtually unchanged.

In lower-income countries people are more likely to be active in their jobs and walk or use public transport. "Offering more opportunities for safe and accessible leisure-time activity to women in order to increase their overall levels of activity would therefore help close the gender gap and achieve the 2025 global physical activity target".

This is compared to global figures in 2016 with indicates that 27.5 percent of the world population aren't getting enough physical activity.

The BBC report quotes that in the United Kingdom alone, 40 per cent of women were found to be inactive whereas the figure was 32 per cent for men.

All over the world, women were found to be less active than men, except for East and Southeast Asia.

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".

The WHO added that insufficient physical activity is one of the leading risk factors for premature death worldwide.

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