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1 in 4 adults worldwide not exercising enough, at risk for disease

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More than a quarter of the world’s adult population did not meet worldwide activity level standards in 2016, increasing their risk for type 2 diabetes, CVD, dementia and some cancers, according to findings recently published in The Lancet Global Health.

“No article has reported regional and global trends of insufficient physical activity,” Regina Guthold, of WHO’s department for prevention of noncommunicable diseases, and colleagues wrote. “We updated previously published country, regional, and global estimates of adult prevalence of insufficient physical activity with new data and new methods, and estimated, for the first time, global and regional trends from 2001 to 2016.”

Examples of sufficient activity include at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week or a combination of these two components, according to researchers, who added if the trends do not improve, a 2025 global physical activity goal — a 10% relative reduction in insufficient physical activity — will not come to fruition. Survey data from 1.9 million participants from 168 countries were analyzed.

Findings include:

  • More than 25% of the world’s adult population were insufficiently active in 2016.
  • Approximately 40% of U.S. adults, 36% of U.K. adults and 14% of adults in China were insufficiently active in 2016.
  • Worldwide levels of physical activity showed no improvement from 2001 to 2016.
  • Worldwide, 32% of women and 23% of men were not exercising at sufficient levels.

There was an increase of insufficient activity in high-income countries from 32% of adults in 2001 to 37% in 2016, and comparable numbers were 16% to 16.2% in low-income countries.

More than a quarter of the world’s adult population did not meet worldwide activity level standards in 2016, increasing their risk for type 2 diabetes, CVD, dementia and some cancers, according to findings recently published in The Lancet Global Health.

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“A significant increase in national action is urgently needed in most countries to scale-up implementation of effective policies,” Guthold and colleagues wrote, suggesting that The Global Action Plan on Physical Activity 2018–2030, which “can be adapted and tailored to local contexts in all countries,” be utilized to be more on par with the activity guidelines.

In a related editorial, Ding Ding, of the Prevention Research Collaboration at the Sydney School of Public Health, University of Sydney, called physical inactivity “a global pandemic” and added that though in some cases such activity lags are unavoidable, there are also some potential ways to reverse the trends.

“Although declines in occupational and domestic physical activity are inevitable, it is essential to incentivize transport and leisure-time physical activity in emerging economies through improving public and active transportation infrastructure, promoting social norms for physical activity through mass sports and school level participation, and implementing sustainable programs at scale that could yield economic, environmental, and social benefits while promoting physical activity.” – by Janel Miller

Disclosures:
The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.

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