Have you ever thought about which are the laziest countries in the world? Well, we have!
When we started thinking about this topic, an inevitable question popped up – what makes one country lazy? Is it the time people spend on their holidays? Definitely not! But, if you want to know which holidays are celebrated around the world, check out our piece about countries that have the most public holidays in the world. Is it measured by the time people work? Again no, but we also wrote about that topic in 11 Countries Where People Work the Least. Some think that among the top dumbest countries in the world, laziest countries have their place. They are probably assuming that if there is no motivation and enthusiasm to study and work, people will stay uneducated and ignorant. Moreover, there are opinions that the laziest people are, the dirtiest is their country. However, we didn’t make any of these correlations. The same is with the question of the laziest race in the world. What we found as the most appropriate answer to what makes one country lazy is the physical activity of its population. This sounded scary in the beginning as we had absolutely no idea how to gather information about the physical activity or let’s better say inactivity of one nation. Luckily, people are nowadays interested in almost every topic that can come to mind. Therefore, by doing our research we found one very interesting study done by a group of scientists from the Stanford University in the US. Here is what they did.
If you are a runner, or into sports, in general, you are most probably familiar with the phone apps that count your steps such as Pedometer and Runkeeper. Stanford researchers tracked the smartphones of 717,000 people who are using these applications in 111 countries, what made this study the largest one ever made regarding human movement. They collected data for 68 million days and the crucial finding was that the average number of daily steps was 4,961. The main aim of this study was to contribute with these findings to the global fight against obesity. According to their research, first, among the most active countries, is Hong Kong with an average number of 6,880 steps per day.
Nowadays, inactivity causes between 6% and 10% of four major diseases – coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and breast and colon cancer, according to the Lancet. Moreover, in 2014, more than 1.9 billion adults, 18 years and older, were overweight out of which over 600 million were obese, according to World Health Organization. Even though it seems logical that obesity is closely related to human activity, Stanford research didn’t find the strong link between the number of people’s steps and obesity level. What the results showed more clearly is the so-called “active inequality” – difference between the country’s fittest and laziest people. What was also interesting is that study shows that men walk more than women.
In order to make our list of laziest countries, we managed to find another research that deals with the same issue. Lancet analyzed human activity and its effect on major noncommunicable (chronic) diseases. Their results are expressed as the percentage of inactivity of both women and men worldwide. So, we compared and overlapped the results of Stanford study on steps and The Guardian‘s summary of data obtained from Lancet study and got the list of most inactive countries. Furthermore, we created our own index, the so-called inactivity index, that represents the combination of the average number of steps from the first study and percentage of inactive people from the second one. The final ranking was made according to that. As you will see the laziest country in Europe is far from being high on this list in contrast to the Asian countries. Considering that the US is not on our list, we just wanted to mention that Americans in average make 4,774 steps a day and 40.5% of people in the country are inactive. Now, let’s check out our list of the laziest countries in the world.
Inactivity index: 10.5
The low number of steps on a daily basis (4759) and noted 38.7% of inactive people according to Lancet, show that Romania is among the laziest countries in the world. From the earlier studies of World Health Organization in 2008, level of obesity in Romania which could be one of the indicators of physical inactivity was high. 51% of adults older than 20 were overweight, while 19.1% had a problem with obesity. Moreover, the prevalence of the weight was higher among men than women.
Inactivity index: 10.5
Finally, there is evidence that Greeks are really lazy! Because of the long-lasting economic crisis, everybody thought Greeks don’t like to work and that they take their leisure time too serious. If we look at the average number of steps (4350) and the fact that 15.6% of people are inactive, this stereotype could be absolutely true!
Inactivity index: 10
It is evident by an average number of daily steps made by one Mexican (4692), that physical activity level in this country is low. Moreover, Lancet results showed that 37.7% of the population is inactive. Therefore, there is a lot of programs and institutions that deal with promoting healthy living. One of them is the National Institute of Public Health which main aim is to promote and advance physical activity as a global health priority.
Inactivity index: 9.5
Who would say that India is among the laziest countries in the world? Although it’s among the highest populated countries, there is obviously a lot more of those who don’t like to take a walk than those who do. The average number of daily steps is 4297, while the percentage of inactive people is 15.6%.
8. New Zealand
Inactivity index: 8.5
The average number of daily steps in this country is 4582, while Lancet noted that 47.7% of people are inactive. What is also interesting is that half of the children between the age of 5 and 14 are using “active transport” – walking, cycling, etc., according to the New Zealand Ministry of Health.
Inactivity index: 8.5
Portugal was in the process of developing national recommendations on physical activity after the WHO report on their health. Moreover, Lancet showed that 51% of the population is inactive, and the average number of daily steps is 4,744 according to Stanford research. Therefore, Portugal is one of the countries that adopted a National Sports for All programme. It defines a set of goals in order to create a strong sporting base to promote and develop sports and education for people of every age.
Inactivity index: 7.5
According to Stanford research, 51.7% of male population in this country is inactive, while female population with “only” 48.3%”, seem to be more active. Moreover, the average number of daily steps is 4008. According to Lancet, 23.7% of them are without any physical activity. National Nutrition Survey of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute conducted a research in which they noted that the number of obese Filipino adults increased by 14.5% in 2015.
Inactivity index: 6
Brazil is one of the countries in which the obesity is becoming a major issue. With the average number of daily steps being 4289 and 49.2% of people being inactive, some researchers suggested that by 2020 their obesity rate could match the US one.
4. United Arab Emirates
Inactivity index: 5.5
The UAE is among laziest countries in the world because of an average number of 4516 steps per day, and 62.5% of inactive people. According to the WHO, physical activity in this country is at the low level. That’s why different programs were developed in order to promote healthy habits. The Dubai Sports Council made a strategic plan with a long-term vision for health promotion.
Inactivity index: 5.5
Fourth on our list is Indonesia, one of the most populated countries in the world, where the majority is absolutely lazy! The average number of daily steps is 3513, while the percentage of inactive people is 29.8%. WHO reports that the obesity rate in this country is higher for females than males. According to Stanford study Indonesians are least active on this list. That could be easily connected to the fact that 35% of them are smokers.
3. South Africa
Inactivity index: 4.5
Some of the studies of physical inactivity in South Africa show a difference in people’s activity in rural and urban areas. Also, what is interesting is that single people were seen as more ready to engage in physical activity rather than those with marital status. Overall, with just 4105 steps per day, South Africa is definitely among the laziest countries. Lancet recorded that the percentage of inactive people is 52.4.
Inactivity index: 3
The obesity rate in Malaysia is one of the highest in Asia. Besides the obesity, there is also a big problem with overweight children. Stanford research noted, besides the average number of steps which is 3963, that the males are more inactive than females. According to Lancet, 61.4% of people in Malaysia are inactive.
1. Saudi Arabia
Inactivity index: 1.5
At the top of our list of laziest countries in the world is Saudi Arabia! Stanford research showed that the average number of daily steps is 3807. Moreover, Lancet recorded that 68.8% of the population is inactive. According to some other studies, this physical inactivity is mostly the result of drastic changes in people’s lifestyles. For example, children today rather play computer games than playing outside. The same is with adults. It seems that it’s a rare occasion for them to take a walk in the park.