Global Response to Physical Inactivity Slow

Global Response to Physical Inactivity Slow
Global Response to Physical Inactivity Slow

A typical day for many people includes at least 8 hours of sitting - driving to work, sitting in an office, driving home, and watching TV. An international study of over 1 million people shows that 1 hour of moderate physical activity can eliminate the health risks associated with sedentary behavior.

The study forms the first part of a four-paper series published by The Lancet that provides an overview and update of worldwide trends in physical activity and its global impact.

Since the first series observing physical activity released in 2012 ahead of the Summer Olympic Games, there has been little progress in tackling the global pandemic of physical activity, with a quarter of adults worldwide failing to meet physical activity recommendations, researchers said, reported.

Health risks that are linked to physical inactivity include an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers, with recent estimates suggesting that more than 5 million people die each year globally due to failing to meet daily activity levels.

Findings from the second part of the series - a world-first study to estimate the economic burden of physical inactivity worldwide - shows that globally in healthcare expenditure and lost productivity, physical inactivity cost the world $67 billion in 2013.

“Physical inactivity is recognized as a global pandemic that not only leads to diseases and early deaths, but imposes a major burden to the economy,” says Dr. Melody Ding, senior research fellow at The University of Sydney’s School of Public Health, Australia.

In the first paper of the series, researchers analyzed 16 studies, which included data from over 1 million people.

The team formed four groups of individuals based on their level of moderate-intensity exercise, ranging from 5-75 minutes per day. Moderate-intensity exercise was defined as walking 3.5 miles per hour or cycling at 10 miles per hour.

Results from the study show that people who spend 8 hours a day sitting but are physically active have a significantly lower risk of death than people who spend fewer hours sitting, but who are not physically active.

Moreover, the increased risk of death associated with spending 8 hours sitting was eliminated by 1 hour of physical activity per day.

People who had the greatest risk of death were those individuals who sat for prolonged periods and were mostly inactive. They were between 28-59% more likely to die early, compared with those in the most active group, which is a similar risk to that associated with smoking and obesity.

The study finds that only around 25% of participants did an hour or more exercise per day. In a third paper in the series looking at the progress and challenges in physical activity, Prof. Jim Sallis, of the University of California-San Diego, says: “The global pandemic of physical inactivity remains, and the global response has been far too slow.”