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

The transition towards more sedentary jobs in wealthier countries is likely to be making people less active experts say. /AGENCIES

The health problems associated with inactive exercise, according to the report include heart disease, type-2 diabetes and some cancers.

As recommended levels of exercises, the World Health Organization calls on individuals to do "at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week, or any equivalent combination of the two". But the highest rates of inactivity are in adults in Kuwait (67%), American Samoa (53%), Saudi Arabia (53%), and Iraq (52%).

The study tracked activity levels of 1.9 million people in 168 countries across the world during 2016.

To stay at peak health, adults are recommended to accumulate at least 150 minutes physical activity at a moderate intensity every week.

According to the new Global Action Plan on Physical Activity target, physical inactivity is to be reduced by 10 percent by 2025 and by 15 percent by 2030, write the researchers.

The study was based on self-reported activity levels both at work and at home and during travel and leisure time. One in three women and one in four men do not take enough exercise or move about enough, too often sitting at desks all day at work, in front of the TV in the evening and travelling by vehicle. Additionally, physical activity has positive effects on mental health, delays the onset of dementia, and can help the maintenance of a healthy weight.' This clearly indicates that a lack of physical exercise can put you at the risk of all the health conditions mentioned above.

The greatest levels of insufficient activity comparing women and men appeared in South Asia (43 versus 24 per cent), Central Asia, Middle East and north Africa (40 versus 26 per cent), and high-income Western countries (42 versus 31 per cent).

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

The study detailed the levels of insufficient physical activity in different countries and estimates global and regional trends.

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".

Women were less active than men (23.4 percent women compared to 31.7 percent men).

"We definitely haven't done enough" to encourage people to exercise, the WHO's Regina Guthold, lead study author, told AFP.

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".

"We have seen basically no progress".

The study's release comes ahead of the Third United Nations General Assembly High-level Meeting on NCDs and their risk factors, including physical inactivity, being held on 27 September 2018 in NY.

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