Billion People Worldwide Need to Make This Lifestyle Change, Says WHO

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With physical activity, a better muscular and cardiorespiratory health, improved bone health, increased weight management, as well as a lower risk of hypertension, heart problems, strokes, diabetes, depression and various types of cancer, can be obtained.

Researchers found little progress in improving physical activity levels between 2001 and 2016 despite a World Health Organization goal of a 10 percent reduction by 2025.

The report's findings suggest that there has been an increase of 5 per cent in the prevalence of insufficient activity in high-income countries, from 32 per cent in 2001 to 37 per cent in 2016.

The UK also has high levels of inactivity - 40% of women do not move enough compared with 32% of men.

In Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, American Samoa, and Iraq, more than 50 percent of adults don't get enough exercise.

Eliminating inequalities in physical activity levels between men and women will be critical to achieving global activity targets, study co-author Fiona Bull said.

According to Dr Regina Guthold, "Regions with increasing levels of insufficient physical activity are a major concern for public health and the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases".

According to the new Global Action Plan on Physical Activity target, physical inactivity is to be reduced by 10 percent by 2025 and by 15 percent by 2030, write the researchers.

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The researchers analyzed findings from hundreds of surveys that included 1.9 million adults, 18 and older, in 168 countries.

"One way to explain sex differences in activity is to assess male and female participation in different domains of activity (activity at work or in the household, for transport, and during leisure time), and at different intensities (moderate and vigorous)", the authors wrote.

"Unlike other major global health risks, levels of insufficient physical activity are not falling worldwide", she said in a statement. In New Zealand, around half the adult population does enough physical activity to meet the Ministry's recommendation of at least 2 ½ hours of physical activity spread throughout the week.

Although high-income countries have a higher prevalence of insufficient physical activity, low- and middle-income countries still bear the larger share of the global disease burden of physical inactivity.

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

Overall, Australian women are less physically active than Australian men - which reflects worldwide trends. Bull said in the statement.

The WHO added that insufficient physical activity is one of the leading risk factors for premature death worldwide.

Dr Melody Ding, from the University of Sydney, who was not involved in the study, said that while economic development led to lifestyle changes that increased sedentary behaviour, governments could do more to help people be more active, such as improving public transport and making it easier to walk and cycle.

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