Feeling lazy? You have 1.8 billion friends

Three men sitting in couch on phones. | Newsreel
Almost a third of the world's adult population is inactive. | Photo: Dikushin (iStock)

The world is officially lazy, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

New data has revealed nearly one third of adults worldwide, about 1.8 billion people, did not meet the recommended levels of physical activity in 2022.

WHO Director of Health Promotion Dr Rüdiger Krech said the findings pointed to a worrying trend of physical inactivity among adults, which had increased by about five percent between 2010 and 2022.

Dr Krech said if the trend continued, levels of inactivity were projected to further rise to 35 percent by 2030.

He said WHO recommended adults have 150 minutes of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity each week.

“Physical inactivity puts adults at greater risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes, type 2 diabetes, dementia and cancers such as breast and colon,” Dr Krech said.

The highest rates of physical inactivity were observed in the high-income Asia Pacific region (48 percent) and South Asia (45 percent), with levels of inactivity in other regions ranging from 28 percent in high-income Western countries to 14 percent in Oceania.

Dr Kreck said of concern were the disparities that remained between gender and age.

“Physical inactivity is still more common among women globally compared with men, with inactivity rates of 34 percent compared to 29 percent.

“In some countries, this difference is as much as 20 percentage points. Additionally, people over 60 are less active than other adults, underscoring the importance of promoting physical activity for older adults.”

He said we needed to find innovative ways to motivate people to be more active, considering factors like age, environment, and cultural background.

“By making physical activity accessible, affordable, and enjoyable for all, we can significantly reduce the risk of noncommunicable diseases and create a population that is healthier and more productive.”

Despite the worrying results, there were some signs of improvement, with the study showing almost half of the world’s countries had made some improvements over the past decade.

Read the full report.