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How Sedentary Are We?

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two women stretching on a grassy field
© CQUniversity 2021

Lack of physical activity contributes to over three million preventable deaths worldwide each year (that’s 6 percent of all deaths). It is the fourth leading cause of death due to non-communicable diseases.

It is also the cause of 21–25 percent of breast and colon cancers, 27 percent of diabetes cases, and around 30 percent of ischaemic (blood clot or reduced blood-flow related) heart disease. In fact, physical inactivity is the second highest cause of cancer in Australia, behind tobacco smoking.

The Australian Health Survey 2011–12 results show:

  • 60 percent of Australian adults do less than the recommended 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each day
  • Only one-third of Australian children and one in 10 young people (aged 5–17) do the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity every day
  • Fewer than one in three children and young people have less than two hours of screen time each day
  • Almost 70 percent of Australian adults can be classed as either sedentary or having low levels of physical activity.

These results are not unique to Australia and are largely replicated in other advanced western nations such as the UK, USA and Canada.

If you are interested, consider the below international health surveys:

NHS UK Health Survey, 2016

India’s National Family Health Survey ‘19-20 – by state

USA National Health Interview Survey

Japan’s National Health and Nutrition Survey ‘21

Brazil National Survey of Health ‘13

Research Challenge

Do some research online and find some statistics or data your own country/region.
Are you surprised with what you have found? Was there a particular statistic that stood out to you? If so please share your thoughts in the comments.
© CQUniversity 2021
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