Heart disease risk

Over 20 million people in the UK are physically inactive according to a report by the British Heart Foundation. The charity warns that inactivity increases the risk of heart disease and also costs the NHS around £1.2bn each year.

The report defines “inactive” as not achieving the government guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a week. Strength activities are also recommended at least two days a week.


1 in 10 UK deaths linked to inactivity

Women are 36% more likely than men to be physically inactive – 11.8 million women compared with 8.3 million men.

Analysis found that the average man in the UK spends around 78 days a year sitting. For women, it is around 74 days a year.

Physical inactivity contributes to almost one in 10 premature deaths from coronary heart disease in the UK. It contributes to one in six deaths from any cause.

76% of people in England who have had a heart attack or heart surgery are considered inactive.

The report shows that there are over 5 million deaths worldwide due to physical inactivity each year. This makes it one of the top 10 leading causes of death.

Dr Mike Knapton at the British Heart Foundation said: “Levels of physical inactivity in the UK remain stubbornly high. Combined, these two risk factors present a substantial threat to our health and risk of early death.”

Evidence shows keeping physically active can reduce the risk of heart disease by 35%. Furthermore the risk of early death can be reduced by as much as 30%.

Regional variations

The charity also found regional variations in the report. In the North West of England 47% of adults are inactive while the South East had the lowest rate at 34%.

In Northern Ireland 46% of the adult population are insufficiently active while in Wales the figure is 42%. Around 37% of the adult population in Scotland are considered physically inactive.

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