Inactivity puts nearly 1.8 billion adults at risk of disease


Nearly a third (31%) of adults worldwide, or about 1.8 billion people, were not getting physical activity at recommended levels. The findings reflect a worrying trend in physical inactivity among adults, which increased by about 5 percentage points between 2010 and 2022, according to a study led by World Health Organization (WHO) researchers in collaboration with academic colleagues and published in The Lancet Global Health.

If the trend continues, the level of inactivity is expected to increase further to 35% by 2030, and currently the world is far from being on track to meet the global target of reducing physical inactivity by 2030.

WHO recommends that adults do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity, or equivalent, per week.

Physical inactivity puts adults at increased risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes, type 2 diabetes, dementia, and cancers such as breast cancer and colon cancer.

The highest rates of physical inactivity were observed in the high-income Asia-Pacific region (48%) and South Asia (45%), with inactivity levels in other regions ranging from 28% in high-income Western countries to 14% in Oceania.

In light of these results, WHO calls on countries to strengthen the implementation of their policies to promote and enable physical activity through mass sport and local practice, as well as leisure activities and modes of active transportation (walking, cycling and using public transport), among other measures.

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