Movement: the World is unsportable

One in four moves too little, showing new data. Almost one and a half billion people are putting their health at risk, warn scientists and experts.

Movement: the World is unsportable

Sitting at work, sitting in subway, sitting in front of TV: more than 1.4 billion people, i.e. a quarter of world's population, sits too much and moves too little. This is shown by a large survey of scientists from World Health Organization (WHO), which is now published in journal Lancet Global Health (Guthold et al, 2018). While re have been major changes in individual countries, proportion of unsportable people worldwide has not changed between 2001 and 2016. The consequences of lack of movement are likely to be dramatic, because people who move little are more likely to suffer from cardiovascular diseases from heart attacks to strokes, are more often overweight or develop a type 2 diabetes and breast or colon cancer.

The research team at Regina Guthold of WHO evaluated 358 surveys of last 15 years from 168 countries with a total of 1.9 million participants. The guidelines of WHO: at least 150 minutes of moderate movement (e.g. dancing, Gassigehen with dog or playing with children) or 75 minutes of intensive exercise (for example jogging, team sports or fast cycling) were considered sufficient movement per week.

Germany cuts poorly

There are significant differences between different countries of world in terms of physical activity. Around 42 percent of people in this country are moving too little. This means that Germany is in a bad position worldwide, and it ends up in 15th place of most inactive countries. Similarly, people in US (40 percent inactive people) and Italy (41 percent) are moving. In France, however, more than two thirds of population were sufficiently active. Among western countries, only New Zealand, Portugal and Cyprus cut even worse than Germany.

There were also major differences between high-income and low-income countries elsewhere. The financially strong Kuwait is country with lowest proportion of active people: only 33 percent of population are moving enough. The leader in terms of movement is Uganda, where 95 percent of population is moving sufficiently (see graph).

The study is likely to be first to capture physical activity over a longer period of time. As a result, proportion of physically active people in world remained same. However, re are not several measuring points from all countries under investigation, from group of low-income countries, for example, only from Benin. For high-income countries, however, re are mostly secured data. In Germany, for example, number of people moving too little has risen by more than 15 percent between 2001 and 2016 – one of largest increases worldwide.

"Regions where people are becoming less physically active are a major problem for public health and prevention of non-communicable diseases," says Regina Guthold, main author. In this way, it mainly refers to diseases of civilisation such as diabetes, obesity and cancer.

Women move less than men

In almost all countries studied, women move much less than men, which is not a completely new finding (sports medicine: Mielke et al., 2018). Previous studies explain difference in that women move less and with lower intensity than men, especially in ir free time. This is especially true for countries where traditional role images of increased movement stand in way. "There must be opportunities for women to be able to move safely, affordable and culturally accepted," says Fiona Bull, coauthor of study.

By 2025, Who wants to reduce world's physical inactivity by ten percent – a goal that is hardly yet to be solved, authors say. The Regina Guthold team refore calls on politicians to promote physical activity of population more strongly. The WHO proposes, for example, an action plan to ensure better bicycle infrastructures and improve safety of pedestrians.

Updated Date: 06 September 2018, 12:00

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