As HuffPost reported Tuesday, The Lancet recently released a series of reports on the state of physical activity -- or, more accurately, inactivity -- around the globe. Among the results? One in 10 deaths is now attributable to inactivity. But to find out just how inactive we were, as a species, Brazilian researcher Dr. Pedro C. Hallal from the Universidade Federal de Pelotas, compiled answers to 155 population surveys from 122 countries.
"In most countries, inactivity rises with age and is higher in women than in men. Inactivity is also increased in high-income countries," Hallal told The Telegraph. It's true that many affluent countries topped the ranking, though countries with great poverty, such as the Dominican Republic and Swaziland, also made it on the list. Also noteworthy were countries that are often associated with healthful lifestlyes: Japan, known for longevity and low cardiovascular disease rates, was in the bottom 25; Brazil, which is known for its strong sports traditions was also on the list; and several Mediterranean countries also associated with healthy eating and lifestyle were represented, including Italy, Spain and Portugal.
To collect the data, Hallal and colleagues aggregated responses to population-representative surveys. Respondents answered questions about their activity levels at work, at home, on transportation and during leisure time. Most countries used one of the World Health Organizations high-quality surveys, such as the Global Physical Activity Questionnaire or the International Physical Activity Questionnaire.
All but five countries had separate surveys for urban and country-living citizens and each survey had to include at least 50 people and be representative of the population. Those over the age of 15 were included in the adult surveys and some countries used surveys that included adolescents between the ages of 13 and 15 as well.
All told, Hallal and colleagues found that Malta was the least active country in the world, followed closely by Swaziland and Saudi Arabia. In fact, 71.9 percent of Maltese people qualified as inactive. To give some context, the United States had an inactivity rate of 41 percent and the country with the highest activity level, Bangladesh, had only 4.7 percent of its adult population operating with habitual inactivity. Other active winners include: Mozambique, with 7.1 percent inactivity; Benin, with 9.1 percent inactivity; Mongolia, at 9.4 percent and Cambodia at 11.2 percent.
Here, the 25 countries most in need of more exercise time -- any surprise you?