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Quick Facts on Physical Inactivity
May 28, 2014
  • Insufficient physical activity can be defined as less than five times 30 minutes of moderate activity per week, or less than three times 20 minutes of vigorous activity per week, or equivalent.
  • Insufficient physical activity is the fourth leading risk factor for mortality.
  • Approximately 3.2 million deaths and 32.1 million DALYs – representing about 2.1 per cent of global DALYs* – each year are attributable to insufficient physical activity.
  • People who are insufficiently physically active have a 20 to 30 per cent increased risk of all-cause mortality compared to those who engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity most days of the week.
  • In 2008, 31.3 per cent of adults aged 15 or older (28.2 per cent men and 34.4 per cent women) were insufficiently physically active.
  • The prevalence of insufficient physical activity is higher in high-income countries compared to low-income countries due to increased automation of work and use of vehicles for transport in high-income countries.
  • High-income countries have more than double the prevalence of insufficient physical activity compared to low-income countries for both men and women, with 41 per cent of men and 48 per cent of women being insufficiently physically active in high-income countries compared to 18 per cent of men and 21 per cent of women in low-income countries.

* DALY- disability-adjusted life year is a measure of overall disease burden expressed as the number of years lost due to ill-health, disability or early death.

Source: Global Atlas on Cardiovascular Disease Prevention and Control. Mendis S, Puska P, Norrving B editors. World Health Organization (in collaboration with the World Heart Federation and World Stroke Organization), Geneva 2011.