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Sedentary Lifestyles Place 1.4 Billion People at Risk for Chronic Disease


How much time do you spend sitting in an average day? According to one report, the average U.S. adult sits for a staggering 13 hours a day. Whether you're riding in a car, lounging in front of the TV or even working -- assuming you have an office job -- you are probably sitting. And while sitting for short periods of time is perfectly fine, you should avoid falling into a sedentary lifestyle. There's new evidence suggesting that people who aren't physically active are more likely to develop chronic diseases and health conditions.

A new study published in the medical journal Lancet Global Health found that roughly one in four people, globally, don't get enough exercise. After crunching the numbers, researchers concluded that some 1.4 billion people fall short of the recommended 150 minutes of vigorous or 75 minutes of strenuous exercise per week. As a result, these individuals have a greater risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, dementia and even cancer.

Researchers say that about 23.3% of the world's adult population fell short of the recommended exercise guidelines in 2016. In 2017, however, this number increased to more than one-quarter. 

So, how were researchers able to conclude that one-quarter of the world's population don't get enough exercise? This isn't a single study. Rather, it's a meta-analysis of more than 350 existing studies involving physical activity and health. The studies spanned more than 160 countries and included data on more than 2 million people. 

Researchers now that people living in high-income countries are more likely to lead a sedentary lifestyle than people in low-income countries. The cause for this remains unclear, though some experts attribute the problem to the growing trend of electronic devices. From smartphones and tablets to televisions and computers, we are exposed to a variety of electronic devices on a regular basis. And while these devices allow us to stay connected, using them consumes time that could be spent for other activities, such as walking and exercising.

"Levels of inactivity are more than twice as high in high income countries as compared to low income countries, with an increasing trend in high income countries," said study author Regina Guthold. "Latin America and the Caribbean, and high-income Western countries are the two regions with the highest levels of inactivity, and with increasing trends in inactivity."

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