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1.5 Billion People Don’t Exercise at Least 20 Minutes a Day

Hemera / Thinkstock

Physical inactivity is becoming a global epidemic that contributes to obesity and poor health overall, according to series of reports published online in The Lancet [NYTimes.com]. According to one report, 31.1 percent of adults worldwide, or roughly 1.5 billion people, don’t meet the minimum recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate activity per week (about 20 minutes a day).

“What once was considered an American problem is now spreading globally and causing a worldwide epidemic in declining health,” says Amanda-Carlson Phillips, vice president of nutrition and research at Core Performance. “If we don’t perceive physical inactivity or sedentary lifestyles as a global concern, we’re looking at a worldwide decrease in morale, increased obesity in children, and an uphill battle against rising health care costs for everyone.”

Here’s a look at worldwide inactivity by the numbers:

  • 43 percent of Americans fail to meet minimum exercise requirements.
  • 35 percent of Europeans aren’t meeting minimum exercise requirements.
  • 30 percent of Russians and Middle Eastern people are inactive.
  • 27 percent of Africans are inactive.

Roughly 5.3 million people a year die from diseases tied to inactivity. This includes 10.8 percent of all premature deaths in America, 18 percent of deaths in Saudi Arabia and Serbia, and 17 percent of deaths in Britain.

Using data collected from W.H.O. and other large population global studies, researchers determined that inactivity is linked to:

  • 6% of heart disease cases
  • 7% of Type 2 diabetes cases
  • 10% of all breast and colon cancers (including people who don’t smoke and are of healthy weight)

The Lancet series also shows that more than 80 percent of young people ages 13-15 worldwide aren’t vigorously exercising for one hour each day, the amount recommended for their age group.

Tags: Longevity, Health, Leisure Time, Disease, Home