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August 1, 2012

Ukraine – Among World’s Most Physically Active Nations

Kyiv, August 1, 2012. More than 80 percent of the population of Ukraine (15 years old and older) lead physically active lifestyle, according to the latest research published in one of the world’s leading medical journals The Lancet. This places Ukraine among top 20 most physically active nations in the world (the research embraced data from 119 countries), leaving behind 82 states, including China, Germany, Sweden, and numerous others.

Ukraine became one of the leaders in physical activity in the European Region. Prevalence of physical inactivity in Ukraine is 18.4 percent. This indicator was lower only in Greece (15.6 percent of the population), Estonia (17.2), and the Netherlands (18.2). In the rating Russia came next after Ukraine with the percentage of physically inactive citizens older than 15 years old reaching 20.8 percent.

The researchers listed their criteria for physical activity. A person must regularly engage in weekly moderate-intensity physical activity at least five times 30 minutes each, vigorous-intensity activity three times 20 minutes each, or perform physical exercise – an equivalent of 600 metabolic equivalent minutes per week.

Over 30 percent of the global population (adults starting 15 years old) are physically inactive and do not meet the minimum recommendations for physical activity, according to the study titled “Global physical activity levels: surveillance progress, pitfalls, and prospects”. It was published in the July 18, 2012, issue of The Lancer.

The authors discuss the problem of physical activity in a changing world. They explain that introduction of technological advances reduces the amount of physical labour, present in daily life of humanity. At the same time, “most of its [bodily] systems (e.g., skeletal, muscle, metabolic, and cardiovascular) do not develop and function in an optimum way unless stimulated by frequent physical activity,” state the researchers.

In another article for The Lancer July 18th issue – “The pandemic of physical inactivity: global action for public health” – the researchers include reasons for reduced activity – reduced overall and occupational physical activity, rural-to-urban migration, increased television viewing among children, etc. Inactive lifestyle leads to development of non-communicable diseases, including coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, breast and colon cancer. They argue that physical inactivity is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide.

Malta (71.9 percent of inactive adults), Swaziland (69), and Saudi Arabia (68.8) take up the top three places in the global physical inactivity ranking. They are followed by Argentina and Serbia who both have population physical inactivity rate of 68.3 percent. Ukraine’s neighbor Poland has 27.6 percent of inactive adults, while the UK – 63.3. The USA demonstrates the 40.5 percent level of inactivity, and Canada – 33.9. China’s physical inactivity rate is 31 percent, Germany’s – 28, Sweden’s – 44.2.