More than 1.4 billion adults are putting themselves at heightened risk of deadly diseases by not getting enough exercise, doctors are warning, with global activity levels virtually unchanged in almost two decades.
If adults were to become more active, they can improve their muscular and cardio-respiratory fitness, bone health, weight control and reduce their risk of hypertension, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, depression and various types of cancer.
The paper, authored by four World Health Organization experts, reports data that update 2008 estimates on levels of activity and, for the first time, reports trend analyses showing that overall, the global level of inactivity in adults remains largely unchanged since 2001.
The study tracked activity levels of 1.9 million people in 168 countries across the world during 2016.
"Unlike other major global health risks, levels of insufficient physical activity are not falling worldwide, on average, and over a quarter of all adults are not reaching the recommended levels of physical activity for good health", said Regina Guthold of the WHO, who co-led the research.
Globally 27 per cent of people do not take enough exercise, compared with 36 per cent in Britain. Finland, where only 17 per cent of people are not active enough, is the most energetic nation in the West.
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"We have seen basically no progress".
In Kuwait, an oil-flush gulf state where temperatures regularly top 45 Celsius (113 Fahrenheit), a whopping two-thirds (67%) of adults weren't exercising enough.
Countries with the highest numbers adults that lacked exercise were from Kuwait, American Samoa, Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
In most countries, women tend to be less active than men.
"Technological advancement has made our life more convenient but also less active".
And women were found to be more sedentary throughout the world, with the exception of two regions of Asia.