No improvement in worldwide exercise levels has been seen since 2001, and, in fact, inactivity has worsened, data in a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) indicated. The findings were published in Lancet Global Health.

Researchers looked at self-reported data from nearly 2 million people in 168 countries about their daily activity levels and found that across the board, activity levels have decreased since 2001. More than 25% of adults did not meet the recommendations for daily activity in 2016, which is higher than the 23.3% reported in 2010. 

Western countries and high-income countries have the highest levels of inactivity and saw a 5% increase in inactivity between 2001 and 2016. High-income countries had a 37% inactivity rate, whereas the rate was just 16% in low-income countries. Uganda and Mozambique had the lowest inactivity rates at 6%. In most countries, women were less active than men. U.S. women had a 48% inactivity rate, compared to 32% in men.

According to the National Cancer Institute, meeting physical activity guidelines (defined as at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity, every week) reduces people’s risk for several cancers and improves side effects and outcomes for all patients with a cancer diagnosis.

To help your patients maintain or add physical activity during or after cancer treatment, use ONS’s Get Up, Get Moving resources.