It could be said that in the world there are certainly one or two countries that have a reputation for spending just a little too much time in the land of slumber.
Though Australia itself could be classed as one of these very countries, are the reputations that we bestow on entire nations of people actually vindicated? Or are we light-heartedly stereotyping the wrong type of people?
Well, the truth is, that depends totally on which country you’re looking at.
It may amuse you to know that out of the top 20 countries in the lazy list (based on amounts of physical activity), our good friends, the Australians, aren’t actually on it.
Though Italy and Ireland do in fact feature on the list, you may be interested to know, that, unfortunately, so does the United Kingdom.
By compiling a series of studies, The Lancet has been able to accrue information from 122 countries and determine the inactivity of each population.
With the United States also coming in at 46th, it may be to the dismay of many that the United Kingdom can be found in a dismal 8th place – in front of “lazy” Italy (17th) and “ale loving” Ireland (18th).
Why did we do so badly?
Researchers have pointed out that a lack of exercise is now a leading cause of death, and that a third of people across the globe fail to meet minimum activity recommendations (which is around 2.5 hours of moderate activity a week).
The study found that here in the UK, a massive 63% of the population lay dormant throughout the week.
With that in mind, however, gyms seem to be popping up across the country at a rate that is almost ceaseless; so what is going wrong?
Though more people are purchasing gym memberships, much like sleeping, however, it is the quality of the workout, not the consistency, which can affect health.
In fact, one study found that only half of gym-goers in the UK actually break a sweat during their routine, and to add to this, 39% revealed that they didn’t know how to use the equipment and didn’t want to look stupid.
So what health effects are associated with inactivity?
As some research has shown that physical inactivity can actually be as dangerous as smoking, lack of exercise is something that should be taken very seriously indeed.
According to The Lancet, nearly 5.3 million deaths can be avoided each year if all inactive people exercised; a figure that is 300,000 deaths above the annual toll of smoking.
According to research carried out by I-Min Lee of Harvard Medical School, there are four major diseases that are heavily linked to inactivity:
- Coronary heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Bowel cancer
- Breast cancer
Harold Kohl of the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in Houston, says that it is the advance of the modern world that has stripped exercise from our daily lives:
“As populations have shifted towards industrialisation, mechanisation and dependency on cars, we’ve engineered opportunities for physical activity out of our lives, and are now killing ourselves as a result.”
What is the solution?
Quite simply, just 2 and a half hours of exercise a week can be enough to keep you healthy according to the experts.
From walking your dog to creating your own workout regime; just 30 minutes a day is enough to keep you out of the ‘inactive’ side of things.
Of course, exercise will also help gain a better quality of sleep, which without, can also have serious implications on your health.
The top 20 lazy countries by inactivity are:
- Bhutan: 52.3% inactive
- South Africa: 52.4% inactive
- Ireland: 53.2% inactive
- Italy: 54.7% inactive
- Cyprus: 55.4% inactive
- Turkey: 56.0% inactive
- Iraq: 58.4% inactive
- Namibia: 58.5% inactive
- Dominican Republic: 60.0% inactive
- Japan: 60.2% inactive
- Malaysia: 61.4% inactive
- United Arab Emirates: 62.5% inactive
- Britain: 63.3% inactive
- Kuwait: 64.5% inactive
- Micronesia: 66.3% inactive
- Argentina: 68.3% inactive
- Serbia: 68.3% inactive
- Saudi Arabia: 68.8% inactive
- Swaziland: 69.0% inactive
- Malta: 71.9% inactive