Over one in four adults worldwide is inactive finds study

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More than a quarter of the world's adults (1.4 billion people) were insufficiently active, according to the data.

The study found people were less active by income - 16 percent for low and 37 percent in high. During the study period, high-income Western nations saw physical inactivity rates increase from nearly 31% to nearly 37%, while rates remained stable, around 16%, in low-income countries. 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.

The researchers analyzed findings from hundreds of surveys that included 1.9 million adults, 18 and older, in 168 countries.

Guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services suggest adults participate in some type of muscle strengthening activity at least twice a week, along with moderate aerobic exercise for 150 minutes per week or 75 minutes per week if vigorously working out.

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In the United Kingdom, 40% of women and 32% of men were insufficiently active in 2016.

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

Of particular concern were increases in already low levels of physical activity for men and women.

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"I consider one of the biggest barriers being our environment -physical activity has been engineered out of life, with desk-based jobs replacing labour jobs, lifts replacing stairs, cars replacing active travel", she said.

Countries with the highest numbers adults that lacked exercise were from Kuwait, American Samoa, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Uganda and Mozambique had the world's lowest prevalence at 6 percent. "Latin America and the Caribbean, and high-income Western countries are the two regions with the highest levels of inactivity, and with increasing trends in inactivity".

Guthold said levels of physical activity were not reducing worldwide "unlike other major global health risks". That discrepancy, the authors write, is likely related to differing gender norms related to work and recreation around the world, as well as safety and accessibility issues in many countries that prevent women from exercising. This puts a quarter of the world's adult population at risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia and cancer.

They acknowledged new policies in global and national level, but said implementation will require "bold leadership and full engagement" across sectors to change the current approach. "While declines in occupational and domestic physical activity are inevitable, it is essential to incentivise 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 co-benefits while promoting physical activity". The advancement in technology has made people's life more convenient but also less active, said Ding.

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