Over 1.4 billion adults at risk due to lack of enough exercise

More than 1.4 billion adults at heightened risk of deadly diseases as they do not get adequate exercise. With richer nations enjoying an increasingly comfortable, sedentary lifestyle, a study by the World Health Organisation (WHO) said a third of women and a quarter of men worldwide are susceptible to heart disease,diabetes and cancer unless they up increase physical activity.

Activity levels of people across the world have remained unchanged in nearly two decades, according to a WHO study tracking activity levels of 1.9 million people in 168 countries across the world during 2016.

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However, women lag behind men in nearly every region of the world. The gender exercise gap highest in Bangladesh, Eritrea, India, Iraq and the Philippines, the study found.

Only in southeast Asia were women equally as active as men and it is also the only region where inactivity has decreased since 2001.

The WHO recommends each adult do at least 150 minutes “moderate-intensity” exercise — such as brisk walking, swimming or gentle cycling — each week, or 75 minutes “vigorous-intensity” activity — such as running or team sports.

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“Insufficient physical activity is a leading risk factor for non-communicable diseases, and has a negative effect on mental health and quality of life,” said the study of world exercise levels, which was published on Wednesday by The Lancet Global Health Journal.

The link between lifestyle in wealthier nations – more time indoors, longer office hours, more easily accessible high-calorie foods – and lower exercise levels, was part of a “clear pattern” of poorer health coming with urbanisation.

In four countries – Kuwait, American Samoa, Saudi Arabia and Iraq – more than half of adults were classified as insufficiently active.

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