The WHO recommends each adult do at least 150 minutes "moderate-intensity" exercise - such as brisk walking, swimming or gentle cycling - each week, or 75 minutes "vigorous-intensity" activity - such as running or team sports.
"Insufficient physical activity is a leading risk factor for non-communicable diseases, and has a negative effect on mental health and quality of life", the world exercise levels study published by The Lancet Global Health Journal said.
The study by four World Health Organization experts pooled data from population-based surveys reporting the prevalence of insufficient activity across 168 countries and spanning almost 2 million people.
In 2016, almost one-third of women and one-quarter of men worldwide did not get the recommended levels of physical activity to stay healthy, the researchers found. "We have seen basically no progress", she added. Inactivity levels were higher in wealthier countries (37 percent) than in poorer countries (16 percent). A longer life, with fewer health problems, awaits those who get up and get moving.
As per the reports, there were various reasons due to which some countries were more active than others, including "biological, psychosocial, institutional, cultural and environmental barriers", said Melody Ding of the University of Sydney.
But the data spanning 2001 to 2016 show the need for all countries to increase the priority given to national and sub-national actions to provide the environments that support physical activity and increase the opportunities for people of all ages and abilities, to be active every day, said the WHO.
"Technological advancement has made our life more convenient but also less active".
Even though the study found one in four adults physically inactive, the figure is as high as one in three in some countries. Women were found to be less active than men in all regions worldwide, with 1 of 3 women (vs. 1 of 4 men) deemed insufficiently active.