Women Found To Be Less Active Than Men Across The Globe

There's been no improvement in global exercise levels in nearly two decades.

More than a quarter of the world's adult population are not doing enough exercise.

That's around one in three women and one in four men not doing enough physical activity to stay healthy and of course, there are a number of concerns with these numbers.

The stats shed light on people's health across the globe but also they highlight the socioeconomic connection between exercise, gender roles and quality of life.

Differences in exercise levels demonstrate social and cultural inequality.  Images: Getty Images.

A study conducted by researchers at the World Heath Organisation looked at adults' activity from 358 population-based surveys from 168 countries. In total there were over 1.9 million participants.

The study found there had been little progress in improving physical activity levels since 2001. The study also found that if the current trends continued, global targets regarding improving exercise levels by 2025 would not be met, leaving the world's population with greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia and some cancers.

The global standard of physical activity to stay healthy is at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity a week.

Women Are Less Active Than Men In Most Cultures

There is also a difference between how active men and women are across cultures. In fact, women were less active than men in all regions of the world, except for east and south east Asia.

Women are less active than men in all places accept some parts of Asia. Image: Getty Images.

"The gender gap in physical activity, particularly in central Asia, Middle East and North Africa and South Asia reveals a health equity issue where women face more environmental, social and cultural barriers to participate in physical activity, particularly in their leisure time," Sydney University's Dr Melody Ding said.

Addressing and eliminating some of the barriers women face is essential to growing global physical activity levels and achieving the 2025 targets.

Wealthier Countries Less Likely To Exercise

The highest rates of insufficient physical activity were found in adults in Kuwait, American Samoa, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq where 50 percent of adults were not active enough.

These were closely followed by 40 percent of adults being in active in the U.S., 36 percent in the UK and 14 percent in China.

The researchers found a number of key trends that give reason for differences in physical activity across the globe.

The growth of insufficient activity by five percent in high-income countries is one, where the rise in low-income countries has been just 0.2 percent.

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This can be largely attributed to wealthier countries transitioning towards sedentary occupations and motorised transport. In countries that are less wealthy, more physical activity occurs when travelling from one place to another or while at work.

The study says a rise in technology, while at the demise of more-physical work, does lead to nations prospering and governments must be aware of this. Leaders need to implement infrastructure that promotes physical activity in everyday life.

Nations that have moved towards desk jobs exercise less. Image: Getty Images.

“Although a recent noncommunicable diseases (NCD) policy survey showed that almost three quarters of countries report having a policy or action plan to tackle physical inactivity, few have been implemented to have national impact," Dr Fiona Bull from the WHO said.

"Countries will need to improve policy implementation to increase physical activity opportunities and encourage more people to be physically active. Governments have recognised the need for action by endorsing the WHO Global Action Plan on Physical Activity," she said.

The study’s release comes ahead of a United Nations General Assembly High-level Meeting on NCDs and their risk factors, including physical inactivity, being held on 27 September 2018 in New York.

Contact Siobhan at skenna@networkten.com.au