Physical inactivty. Not just a first world problem.

Happy New Year everyone! We are back for good and this is officially our first post of 2014!

Shortly before we left, we had talked about new year’s resolutions . I cannot prove it, but I am quite sure that exercising more is one of the top resolutions of this year too (by the way here are 5 tips on how to keep this resolution; although this funny article claims we should abandon it). And as you might have noticed from one or two previous posts), physical activity is one of our interests! And yes, you guessed right, this is another post on this subject.



We tend to think that physical activity is a first world problem and that people in developed countries have other things to worry about. This is true, however, physical inactivity is a problem they should also worry about. Don’t take my word for it, take the word of WHO: physical inactivity is an independent risk factor for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). 80% of deaths from common NCDs occur in low and middle-income countries. Levels of inactivity are high in developing countries too. Add to that the fact that obesity rates grow faster in poor countries (as recently reported by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI)).  Now put all these together and you’ll see why physical inactivity is a problem everywhere.

We very recently published a study that confirms the above. Jalil Koohpayehzadeh and colleagues studies the changes of physical activity patterns in Iran from 2007 to 2011. They found that the levels of physical activity decreased, especially amongst women and people living in urban areas. They also report increased prevalence of obesity and diabetes. The authors conclude that interventions that promote physical activity should be promoted.

Any my question is: what kind of interventions do you think would work better in developing countries? Probably not fancy gadgets tracking steps, calories and more. This review of interventions for physical activity in developing countries by the WHO can provide a good starting point to get us thinking.


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3 Responses

  1. Debashis Chowhdhury says:

    Lack of physical activity is becoming an important cause of many diseases in the people living in many developing countries. There are several reasons for increasing physical inactivity in these countries. First of all, there are not enough public grounds, parks or spaces in many countries. Moreover, in some countries public parks and sports grounds are not safe for general public. As an example, although there are two large public parks in Dhaka city, in Bangladesh, they are now occupied by miscreants, hoodlums and people engaged in antisocial activities. As a result, common people try to avoid those places for security reasons. Secondly, most of the cities in developing countries have no well planned public transit systems. So, people need to spend long hours on the roads because of huge traffic jams. As for example, people in Bangladesh has to spend more than two to three hours to travel from one part to another part of the main city due to unplanned roads and inadequate public transport. Finally, people in many developing as well as developed countries do not find enough time to engage in physical activities or sports. They have to work all day long in two or three jobs. Although once upon a time a person could maintain his or her family working in a single job, many ordinary people now find it difficult to survive even working in two or three places. The cost of living has increased in every country. However, wages of employees, instead of increasing,has decreased in many countries. So, majority of ordinary people in many countries can not afford either time or money to spend in physical activities. In conclusion, lack of secured public spaces,lack of planned public transit systems and deteriorating economic conditions are some of the important reasons for decreasing physical activities among the people of many developing countries.

  2. thomy tonia says:

    thank you so much for your response and the useful insight into some factors that play a role in physical inactivity in developed countries.

    what kind of interventions do you think might help?

  3. 6chaud says:

    Hi there! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a group of volunteers and starting a new
    initiative in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us valuable information to work on. You have done a marvellous job!

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