WHO Cautions About Inactivity Pandemic and Disease Risk

November 20, 2018 by Elisa Becze BA, ELS, Editor

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.


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