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Inactive Brits 'risking heart disease'

WebMD UK Health News Brief
Medically Reviewed by Dr Sheena Meredith
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3rd April 2017 – Over 20 million people in the UK don't get enough exercise and are putting themselves at risk of heart disease, according to a new analysis.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) report says that rates of physical inactivity are high among people who have developed heart problems.

Just over three-quarters of people in England who are referred for cardiac rehabilitation after a heart attack, a diagnosis of other heart problems or heart surgery are classified as physically inactive. In some areas of the UK this is as high as 97% of people.

Figures obtained by the heart charity, suggests there are 11.8 million women and 8.3 million men across the UK who would be classed as insufficiently active.

Activity levels across the United Kingdom

Out of the 4 nations that make up the UK, Northern Ireland fares worst with 46% of adults considered physically inactive. Scotland comes off best with 37%. The average across the whole of the UK is 39%.


A heat map of physical inactivity levels across the UK. Credit: The British Heart Foundation

In England, people are more likely to be sedentary in the North West, with 47%, compared with 34% in the South East.

Getting enough exercise

Official recommendations say that adults should take part in at least 150 minutes of moderately intense physical activity a week. However, according to a BHF survey, 60% of adults are unaware of these government guidelines.

The BHF estimates that the average man in the UK spends the equivalent of 78 days each year sitting. The average woman in the UK spends around 74 days each year sitting.

In a forward to the Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Report, the charity's associate medical director Dr Mike Knapton, writes: "Around 20 million adults in the UK are insufficiently active, putting them at a significantly greater risk of heart and circulatory disease, and premature death.

"Levels of sedentary behaviour also remains stubbornly high in the UK, and evidence is growing that shows a sedentary lifestyle, irrespective of your level of physical activity, is strongly associated with poor cardiovascular health."

Heart and circulatory disease causes nearly 160,000 deaths each year in the UK – an average of 435 people each day.

The BHF is launching its 2017 MyMarathon challenge this year to encourage a more active lifestyle and improve heart health. The challenge encourages people of all fitness levels to run the distance of a marathon – 26.2 miles – in their own time over a month.

Last year, people taking part in the challenge raised over £1 million for research into heart disease.

Reviewed on April 03, 2017

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