Came across a fascinating study that used steps data from over 700K people in 111 countries to understand global health and the dangers of physical inactivity.
The researchers were surprised to find that a country’s average step count did not turn out to be the best predictor of that nation’s obesity rate.
- Instead, a factor they called “activity inequality” turned out to be more important.
- This is the difference between the most and least active people in a country (the ‘activity rich’ vs. the ‘activity poor’).
- The size of the gap between them is a strong indicator of obesity levels in that society e.g. Sweden has one of the smallest gaps between the most and least active people, and also has one of the lowest obesity rates.
- The United States has a large gap between the most and least active people and has a high obesity rate.
Places that are more “walkable” have lower levels of activity inequality.
- In more walkable cities, activity is greater throughout the day and throughout the week, across age, gender, and body mass index (BMI) groups, with the greatest increases in activity found for females.
The findings have implications for global public health policy and urban planning and highlight the role of activity inequality and the built environment in improving physical activity and health.
The study has great relevancy for my hometown, NYC which is not only very walkable but also where we are increasingly getting around on bikes since the Citibike program was introduced.
- There are now more than 450,000 daily Citibike trips in NYC (up from 170,000 in 2005).
- Citibike’s expansion to all the boroughs means more people will be getting on bikes, making the city healthier
- NY has more people commuting to work by bike than any other American city (46,057 in 2015 vs. 16,468 in 2005).
However, despite all that walking and biking, NYC still only comes in at #22 on the Fittest Cities in America study, an annual survey published by the American College of Sports Medicine. DC comes in at #1. See where your city ranks here.
And read on below for more findings from the global steps study including countries with highest and lowest daily steps. Link to full article from livescience here.
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