Around 1.4 billion people worldwide are physically inactive, reveals World Health Organization study

Four in ten British women do not do enough exercise a week according to the World Health Organisation who recommend adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week

In 2016, just under 20% of the global population - 1.4 billion people - were insufficiently active, the research conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) found.

Regular physical inactivity increases risk of poor health, including cardiovascular disease, several types of cancer and diabetes, and mental health conditions, according to WHO. This study, the largest and most comprehensive of its kind, is the first ever to investigate global trends in physical inactivity over time.

The authors arrived at these findings after pooling data from 358 population-based surveys across 168 countries, representing some 1.9 million people. A total of 43.9 per cent of women in India have been unable to meet the standard physical activity quota while 24.7 per cent of men are inactive.

Across regions, many individual countries recorded large differences in insufficient activity between women and men, such as 40 vs. 16 percent in Bangladesh, 31 vs. 14 percent in Eritrea, 44 vs. 25 percent in India, 48 vs. 32 percent in the USA and 40 vs. 32 percent in the UK. In restrictive Saudi Arabia and Iraq, for instance, more than half of all adults were insufficiently active, the study found.

The study was published september 4 in The Lancet Global Health.

According to the study, which was carried out by WHO investigators and released in The Lancet Global Health journal, overall rates of physical activity have not seen any noticeable improvement since 2001.

The study suggests that living in a high income country, you're twice as likely not to get the exercise you need (36·8 percent), than in a low-income country (16·2 percent).

These illnesses are commonly linked to factors, such as, spending more time indoors, longer office hours, more accessible high calorie food and lower levels of exercise. About 40 percent of adults in the US and 36 percent in the United Kingdom don't meet the minimum requirement for exercise.

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Around the world, there's a lot of variation in physical activity levels.

Interestingly, women were less active than men in all regions of the world, apart from the East and Southeast Asia.

If these numbers weren't eye-opening enough, it was also reported in the same study that Aussie women are way worse than men.

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.

The authors called for a significant increase in national action is urgently needed in most countries to scale-up implementation of effective policies.

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

"There is not one silver bullet to overcoming the physical inactivity epidemic", said Knell, who had no part in the new World Health Organization study.

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