Where are physical inactivity levels highest? High income countries are more inactive (37%) compared with middle income (26%) and low income countries (16%).
The regions with the highest rates of inactivity include Latin America and the Caribbean (39 percent), high-income Western countries (37 percent) and high-income Asia Pacific countries (36 percent).
This means they were doing less than 150 minutes of moderate intensity, or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week. Worldwide, around one in three women and one in four men do not do enough physical activity to stay healthy. Each of the surveys asked participants about how much physical activity they did through work, household tasks, transportation and leisure time.
The new report found that around the world, 32 percent of women and 23 percent of men don't get enough exercise, even when accounting for time spent walking or biking to work and physical activity on the job.
India has the highest number of inactive adults in the South-Asia group which also included Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Pakistan.
Although the worldwide problem of inactivity is clear, the solutions are less so.
Other main findings showed that by the end of 2016, in 55 of 168 countries, more than one-third of the population was insufficiently physically active.
"It is prevalent in every country and has the same impact on chronic disease", said Thompson, who was not involved in the study.
The Ministry recognises physical activity as an important determinant of health. "Americans are just not getting enough exercise".
"In these settings, women are often expected to be at home, take care of the children, manage the household and so sometimes don't always have time to exercise", said Guthold. "Small changes in behavior, like parking your auto in the last row instead of the first row at the grocery store or climbing stairs instead of the elevator, are just two examples". Publication of levels of participation in children and young people are forthcoming. Many of these changes are described in the WHO's new Global Action Plan on Physical Activity.
-Insufficient physical activity is a leading risk factor for non-communicable diseases, and has a negative effect on mental health and quality of life.
"Although a recent NCD policy survey showed that nearly three quarters of countries report having a policy or action plan to tackle physical inactivity, few have been implemented to have national impact". Avoiding exercise in all cases has become the "more convenient and easier" option. People in poorer nations are more than twice as active as their counterparts in high-income nations.
"We definitely haven't done enough to encourage people to exercise", said Guthold.