1.8 Billion people don’t exercise enough! Here’s why you should

Recent research published in The Lancet Global Health highlights a concerning trend: nearly one-third of the global adult population fails to meet recommended physical activity levels.

This widespread inactivity is associated with an increased risk of non-communicable diseases, cognitive decline and mental health issues. The 2022 data suggest that if current trends continue, the global goal of reducing insufficient physical activity by 15% by 2030 is unlikely to be met [1].

Physical activity is crucial for maintaining good health, reducing the risk of chronic diseases and enhancing mental wellbeing. The World Health Organization recommends adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise weekly [2].

Despite these guidelines, a significant portion of the global population remains inactive, particularly among women and older adults.

The study analyzed data from 507 surveys covering 163 countries to assess physical activity trends from 2000 to 2022. Researchers used a Bayesian hierarchical model to estimate activity levels, adjusting for age, sex and country.

This comprehensive approach revealed that 31.3% of the global population did not engage in adequate physical activity in 2022, marking an increase from previous years.

The majority of insufficient physical activity has risen globally, with 52% of the surveyed countries experiencing an increase in inactivity [3]. Women and individuals over 60 years old are particularly affected.

Regions like Oceania and sub-Saharan Africa are closer to meeting the 2030 activity goals, whereas others, including high-income Western and Asian Pacific countries, are falling behind.

A multi-sectoral effort is needed to combat rising inactivity. Policies should address the disparities in physical activity related to gender, age and regional inequalities.

The study stresses the importance of national and global initiatives to promote more active lifestyles to meet the 2030 health targets. The study received support from the Ministry of Public Health, Qatar and the World Health Organization, ensuring its findings are grounded in extensive data and rigorous analysis.

With insufficient physical activity levels on the rise globally, there is a pressing need for effective public health strategies. These should aim to increase physical activity across all demographics to combat the health risks associated with inactivity and strive to meet global health goals by 2030.

[1] https://www.thelancet.com/journals/langlo/article/PIIS2214-109X(24)00150-5/fulltext 
[2] https://iris.who.int/bitstream/handle/10665/337001/9789240014886-eng.pdf
[3] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352464219303232

Photograph: bernardbodo/Envato
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