How active are we in the UK? About average according to a recent study of data from around the world. The study by US scientists ran for 65 days and aimed to find out how active we really are.

In total 68 million days’ worth of minute by minute data was collected from over 700,000 people. The global average number of daily steps was 4,961.

Hong Kong was top in the global study averaging 6,880 a day. Indonesia was bottom of the list with just 3,513 steps. The study used data from more than 100 countries using a smart phone app to track activity.

Activity inequality

The study also found some surprising information. For example, the average number of steps is not a good predictor of obesity levels. The key factor was “activity inequality”, where some people walk much more than others. The higher the level of inequality, the higher the rates of obesity.

In countries like Sweden, which has a small gap, there are low rates of obesity. The United States and Mexico both have similar average steps but the US has higher activity inequality and also higher obesity levels.

Researchers were surprised to find that activity inequality was largely driven by differences between men and women. In countries like Japan – with low obesity and low inequality – both sexes exercised to similar degrees. However in countries with high inequality, like the US and Saudi Arabia, it was women spending less time being active.

Being able to get around a town or city without using transport also appears to play a part. Places which are easy to get around on foot have lower levels of both activity inequality and obesity. The team behind the research say the findings help explain global patterns of obesity and could help find new ways of tackling it.

The findings were recently published in Nature, an international science journal. Read the full report here:

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