1.4 bil­lion risk dis­ease from lack of ex­er­cise

Lev­els of in­suf­fi­cient ac­tiv­ity to guard off non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble killers, in­clud­ing de­men­tia and car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases, are more than twice as high in high-in­come coun­tries com­pared to de­vel­op­ing na­tions.

The Borneo Post - Nature and health - - Front Page -

MORE than 1.4 bil­lion adults are putting them­selves at height­ened risk of deadly dis­eases by not get­ting enough ex­er­cise, doc­tors are warn­ing, with global ac­tiv­ity lev­els vir­tu­ally un­changed in nearly two decades. With richer na­tions en­joy­ing an in­creas­ingly com­fort­able, seden­tary life­style, a study by the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion said a third of women and a quar­ter of men world­wide are in the fir­ing line for killer con­di­tions such as heart dis­ease, di­a­betes and can­cer un­less they up their phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity.

“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 pub­lished Wed­nes­day by The Lancet Global Health Jour­nal. 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.

The study tracked ac­tiv­ity lev­els of 1.9 mil­lion peo­ple in 168 coun­tries across the world dur­ing 2016. Re­searchers found there had been no im­prove­ment in phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity lev­els since 2001, de­spite nu­mer­ous pub­lic health ini­tia­tives ex­tolling the ben­e­fits of ex­er­cise. More than a quar­ter of the world’s adults (1.4 bil­lion peo­ple) were in­suf­fi­ciently ac­tive, ac­cord­ing to the data. “We def­i­nitely haven’t done enough” to en­cour­age peo­ple to ex­er­cise, the WHO’s Regina Guthold, lead study au­thor, told AFP. “We have seen ba­si­cally no progress.” The study authors high­lighted sev­eral wor­ry­ing trends, in­clud­ing a stark di­vide in ex­er­cise rates be­tween poor and rich na­tions, and be­tween men and women. Lev­els of in­suf­fi­cient ac­tiv­ity to guard off non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble killers, in­clud­ing de­men­tia and car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases, are more than twice as high in high-in­come coun­tries com­pared to de­vel­op­ing na­tions. Guthold said the link be­tween the 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.

“As coun­tries ur­banise, peo­ple who used to be, say, farm­ers, and got a lot of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity through their work all of a sud­den live in an ur­ban en­vi­ron­ment where they might be with­out work or move to a seden­tary job, so so­ci­eties need to com­pen­sate,” she said. In four coun­tries – Kuwait, Amer­i­can Samoa, Saudi Ara­bia and Iraq – more than half of adults were clas­si­fied as in­suf­fi­ciently ac­tive. Melody Ding of the Univer­sity of Syd­ney, who worked on the paper, said there were a va­ri­ety of rea­sons why some coun­tries were more ac­tive than oth­ers, in­clud­ing “bi­o­log­i­cal, psy­choso­cial, in­sti­tu­tional, cul­tural and en­vi­ron­men­tal bar­ri­ers”. “I con­sider one of the big­gest bar­ri­ers be­ing our en­vi­ron­ment – phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity has been en­gi­neered out of life, with desk-based jobs re­plac­ing labour jobs, lifts re­plac­ing stairs, cars re­plac­ing ac­tive travel,” she told AFP. “Tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ment has made our life more con­ve­nient but also less ac­tive.” Women still lag be­hind men in nearly ev­ery re­gion of the world, with the gen­der ex­er­cise gap high­est in Bangladesh, Eritrea, In­dia, Iraq and the Philip­pines, the study found. “In these set­tings, women are of­ten ex­pected to be at home, take care of the chil­dren, man­age the house­hold and so some­times don’t al­ways have time to ex­er­cise,” said Guthold.

– iStock photo

More than 1.4 bil­lion adults are putting them­selves at height­ened risk of deadly dis­eases by not get­ting enough ex­er­cise, doc­tors are warn­ing, with global ac­tiv­ity lev­els al­most un­changed in nearly two decades.

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