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Global Study Highlights Concern: More Than 1.8 Billion People Found Physically Unfit

Global Study Highlights Concern: More Than 1.8 Billion People Found Physically Unfit


Recent data from the World Health Organization (WHO) reveals a concerning trend: nearly one-third of the global population, approximately 31% of adults, did not meet the WHO-recommended levels of physical activity in 2022. This figure is expected to rise by 35% by 2030, highlighting a significant increase in physical inactivity worldwide.


The WHO recommends that adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week to maintain optimal health. Failure to meet these guidelines increases the risk of serious noncommunicable diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia, and certain cancers.


“This data underscores a missed opportunity to reduce the burden of chronic diseases and enhance mental well-being through increased physical activity,” stated Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. “To reverse this trend, we urgently need stronger policies and increased funding to promote physical activity globally.”


The highest rates of physical inactivity were observed in the high-income Asia Pacific region, where 48% of adults are inactive, and South Asia, with 45% of adults not meeting activity guidelines. In contrast, inactivity levels were lower in other regions, ranging from 28% in high-income Western countries to 14% in Oceania.


The data also reveals disparities in physical activity levels between genders and age groups. Globally, women are more likely to be physically inactive (34%) compared to men (29%), with some countries showing a significant gender gap of up to 20 percentage points. Moreover, individuals over the age of 60 are less active, emphasizing the need for targeted efforts to promote physical activity among older adults.


“Physical inactivity poses a silent threat to global health, significantly contributing to the prevalence of chronic diseases,” remarked Dr. Rüdiger Krech, WHO’s Director of Health Promotion. “By making physical activity accessible, affordable, and enjoyable for all populations, we can mitigate the risk of noncommunicable diseases and foster a healthier, more productive society.”


Despite these concerning trends, there are indications of progress in various countries. Nearly half of all countries worldwide have made improvements in physical activity levels over the past decade, and 22 countries are on track to reduce physical inactivity by 15% by 2030 if current efforts continue.


In conclusion, addressing the global challenge of physical inactivity requires concerted efforts at national and international levels. By implementing evidence-based policies, promoting community-based interventions, and enhancing public awareness, stakeholders can collectively work towards reducing physical inactivity and improving global health outcomes for generations to come.

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