In 10 Irish Women Don't Get Enough Exercise

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

Worldwide, around 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men do not do enough physical activity to stay healthy.

Levels of insufficient activity among adults varied widely across income groups, with 16 percent in low-income countries compared to 37 percent in high-income countries. In the US about 40 percent of adults were insufficiently active, in the United Kingdom it was 36 percent.

The findings appear in The Lancet Global Health journal.

This put Australia at 97th spot of 168 countries involved, with 30.6 per cent not reaching the recommended level of physical activity.

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.

In the United Kingdom, 40% of women and 32% of men were insufficiently active in 2016. Half as many people are sufficiently active in affluent countries as in the developing world, where many people still labour every day. Those countries were part of a larger trend: High-income nations tended to have lower exercise adherence than low-income countries, in part because work and transportation is largely sedentary in developed areas, while activity is built into the daily lives of people in less-industrialized countries. This is despite numerous initiatives to encourage people to exercise more.

It's also found globally activity levels haven't changed in almost two decades.

Women were less active than men in all regions of the world except in East and Southeast Asia.

In Western countries for example, physical inactivity increased from 31 percent in 2001 to 37 percent in 2016.

Rates of physical activity are largely unchanged since 2001, in some cases worsening and with large disparities between men and women, the report said. This includes 38.2% of all South Africans.

Guthold said levels of physical activity were not reducing worldwide "unlike other major global health risks". That region registered 26% of adults with insufficient activity in 2001 yet just 17% in 2016. The best performing country was Finland and the worst performing country was Cyprus.

Where prevalence was higher than 50%.

The Lancet, a British medical journal, ahead of World Obesity Day in October previous year, indicated the rise in obesity rates in low and middle income countries.

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

The authors of the report have warned that the way things look, it will not be possible to reduce global inactivity by 10 per cent.

Walter R. Thompson, an associate dean and a professor of kinesiology and health at Georgia State University, said that the study's most important point is that "physical inactivity is pandemic and not a characteristic of low-income or high-income countries".

Last Updated: September 05, 2018.

The surveys took note of physical activity in work, at home, for transport and during leisure time - so we have no excuses.

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