World Health Organization reveals 1.4 billion people risk disease from lack of exercise

Research shows there was little progress in improving physical activity levels between 2001 and 2016

Research shows there was little progress in improving physical activity levels between 2001 and 2016

The new Global Action Plan on Physical Activity sets the target to reduce physical inactivity by 10 percent by 2025 and 15 percent by 2030.

"Unlike other major global health risks, levels of insufficient physical activity are not decreasing worldwide and more than a quarter of all adults do not reach recommended levels of physical activity to maintain good health", stated Regina Guthold, the study's leading author. Insufficient physical activity rose 5 percent in high-income countries, and increased just 0.2 percent in low-income countries.

And women were found to be more sedentary throughout the world, with the exception of two regions of Asia.

The WHO recommends each adult do at least 150 minutes "moderate-intensity" exercise - such as brisk walking, swimming or gentle cycling - each week, or 75 minutes "vigorous-intensity" activity - such as running or team sports.

Australia has ranked 97th out 168 countries based on how many adults get a sufficient about of exercise.

New global research has revealed almost one third of Australians aren't getting enough exercise.

The study also said that there has been no improvement in global levels of physical activity since 2001.

In addition to the multiple health benefits of physical activity, societies that are more active can generate additional returns on investment including a reduced use of fossil fuels, cleaner air and less congested, safer roads.

In Kuwait, American Samoa, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, more than half of the population doesn't get enough exercise, according to the WHO.

Find out more about the Ministry of Health's Physical Activity Guidelines which help New Zealanders understand the importance of physical activity. Only 6 percent of residents of Uganda and Mozambique were too sedentary, the report found, making those countries the most active in the world. Each of the surveys asked participants about how much physical activity they did through work, household tasks, transportation and leisure time. That's because a lack of exercise increases one's risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, cholesterol, and body weight.

"In these settings, women are often expected to be at home, take care of the children, manage the household and so sometimes don't always have time to exercise", said Guthold.

"Addressing these inequalities in physical activity levels between men and women will be critical to achieving global activity targets and will require interventions to promote and improve women's access to opportunities that are safe, affordable and culturally acceptable", co-author Dr. Fiona Bull from World Health Organization said. As a result, they have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia and cancers. Publication of levels of participation in children and young people are forthcoming.

High-income countries, including the United Kingdom, were among the least active.

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