More than 40% of university students in 23 countries are physically inactive

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Are you physically active? Before rushing to say “yes”, I’ll give you the official definition of what that means, according to the WHO: assuming that you are an adult, at least 150 mins/ week of moderate physical activity; or at least 75 mins/ week of vigorous physical activity. Or a combination of both. You get the idea.

Not sure what your answer is now but it seems that a lot of people do not meet these minimum recommendations. A study we recently published sought to estimate the prevalence of physical (in)activity amongst university students in 23 low-, middle- and high-income countries.

Almost 18,000 students completed the International Physical Activity Questionnaire as well as other measures related to demographics, health risk behaviours etc. The main results of this study can be summarized as follows:

  • The overall prevalence of physical inactivity was 41%
  • Males had significantly higher physical activity levels in all but 6 countries
  • Highest levels of physical inactivity were observed in South Asia, China and South East Asia
  • Students from middle- and high- income countries had higher physical activity levels than students from low- income countries.
  • Increased age was associated with higher odds of being physically inactive.
  • Higher fruit and vegetable intake, avoidance of fat and conscious fibre intake were all associated with lower levels of inactivity; similarly, skipping breakfast was associated with higher levels of inactivity.

What do you think about  these results? Are they similar to what you observe amongst your peers? What can be done to improve it? (and seeing that an estimated 5.3 million deaths could be prevented annually if physically inactive people were sufficiently active, we’d better do something about it!)



*This study was written by Supa Pengpid, Karl Peltzer, Hemant Kumar Kassean, Jacques Philippe Tsala Tsala, Vanphanom Sychareun and Falk Müller-Riemenschneider

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