How much exercise should we be getting? – Couch Potato Britain

Britain has one of the most sedentary populations on earth, with almost twice the proportion of people defined as ‘inactive’ as in neighbouring France, a study has shown. Of the French population, just under a third are inactive, while in the super-fit Netherlands less than a fifth of people are inactive.

Global figures reveal that even the Americans put us to shame when it comes to taking exercise.
In the UK, 63.3 % of the population fails to meet recommended levels of physical activity, increasing their risk of conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
By comparison, 40.5 % of US citizens are inactive, despite more than 30 % of them being obese.

Researchers used World Health Organisation survey data, collected by questionnaire, to compare 122 countries representing 89 % of the world’s population.

Inactivity was defined as not meeting any of three criteria: 30 minutes of moderate activity such as a brisk walk, at least five days a week; 20 minutes of vigorous activity at least three days a week; or an equivalent combination of the two.

The findings, part of a series of studies on physical activity published in The Lancet medical journal, suggest that, worldwide, roughly 3 out of every 10 adults aged 15 and over do too little exercise.

‘Societal trends are leading to less not more activity than previously, and with few exceptions, health professionals have been unable to mobilise governments and populations to take physical inactivity seriously as a public health issue.’

The research also found that more than four fifths of 13 to 15-year-olds around the world do not get the minimum recommended hour of moderate exercise a day.

A second study found that lack of physical activity leads to between 6 & 10 % of all cases of heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and breast and bowel cancer.

Globally, it was responsible for around 5.3million of the 57million deaths that occurred in 2008.

The contribution of insufficient exercise to disease and shortened lifespan was similar to that of smoking or obesity.

Amy Thompson, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), said: ‘The results of this study, though shocking, tell us what we already know. Being physically active can have huge benefits for your health.

‘Adults should try and be active every day, and build up to at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week. Moderate intensity means any activity, which causes you to become warm, increases your heart rate slightly and gets you breathing a little harder than normal.

Are you getting the recommended amount of physical activity a week?


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