We’ve reported on the negative health effects of a sedentary lifestyle before, but it appears the threat level for inactivity was just kicked up a notch. Researchers are now saying the problem is so bad it should be called a pandemic.
A report published in the British Medical Journal The Lancet estimates that about a third of adults worldwide are not getting enough physical activity, resulting in over 5 million deaths a year. It states that inactivity leads to one in 10 deaths from diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and breast and colon cancer. These and many other chronic diseases have been linked to sedentary lifestyles.
To get a global perspective of the problem, the study involved a team of 33 researchers from around the world. They found that people in higher income countries were the least active with those in the UK among the worst, as nearly two-thirds of adults were not getting the recommended 150 minutes of moderate exercise weekly. In the U.S., approximately three quarters of adults don’t reach the minimum level of exercise.
The researchers believe using the term pandemic is appropriate and necessary to create a sense of urgency to make fundamental changes in how we live and work.
They believe governments worldwide should play a role in making physical activity more convenient, affordable and safer. An example would be designated bike lanes for commuters or more public parks and recreation areas.
"The global challenge is clear - make physical activity a public health priority throughout the world to improve health and reduce the burden of disease," said Pedro Hallal, one of the lead researchers.