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Most people do not exerci­se enough to gain health benefits

22.9.2022

Approxi­ma­te­ly two thirds of Fin­nish people over the age of 18 do not exerci­se enough. In terms of ove­rall acti­vi­ty, howe­ver, about 40% of the popu­la­tion exerci­ses less than the recom­men­ded amount. Young adults are more like­ly to exerci­se than older people, and only about one in ten of tho­se over the age of 80 achie­ved the recom­men­ded level of phy­sical activity.

Regu­lar, mode­ra­te or vigo­rous phy­sical acti­vi­ty impro­ves the con­di­tion of the res­pi­ra­to­ry and circu­la­to­ry sys­tems and inc­rea­ses their func­tio­na­li­ty and efficiency. An inc­rea­sed level and inten­si­ty of phy­sical acti­vi­ty often leads to an impro­ve­ment in phy­sical con­di­tion.  Good phy­sical con­di­tion also pro­mo­tes health and is lin­ked to reduced total mor­ta­li­ty and a lower rate of mor­ta­li­ty rela­ted to car­dio­vascu­lar disea­ses as well as a reduced risk of deve­lo­ping a wide ran­ge of long-term disea­ses, for example.

In order to achie­ve the health bene­fits of phy­sical acti­vi­ty, adults aged 18–65 should exerci­se for at least 150 minu­tes at a mode­ra­te level eve­ry week or, alter­na­ti­ve­ly, comple­te at least 75 minu­tes of vigo­rous aero­bic acti­vi­ty as well as acti­vi­ties that main­tain muscle strength and move­ment cont­rol at least twice a week.

The phy­sical acti­vi­ty recom­men­da­tions for people over the age of 65 are in line with tho­se for youn­ger adults, but in addi­tion to muscle-strengt­he­ning exerci­se, older people should also prac­ti­se balance and flexi­bi­li­ty in order to pre­vent falls.

Howe­ver, the Fin­Health 2017 stu­dy showed that Finns, both adults and young people, are more invol­ved in phy­sical acti­vi­ty in their free time. If this trend con­ti­nues, Fin­land may achie­ve the tar­get set by the World Health Orga­niza­tion, which aims to reduce the pro­por­tion of tho­se Finns who get an insuf­ficient amount of exerci­se by 10% by 2025.

The chal­len­ge is to reach tho­se sec­tions of the popu­la­tion who are the least phy­sical­ly acti­ve, such as the older age cohorts and people with lower levels of educa­tion. Alt­hough the trend looks pro­mi­sing, it is impor­tant to ensu­re that it con­ti­nues to move in a posi­ti­ve direc­tion. In a glo­bal con­text, Fin­nish people are a phy­sical­ly acti­ve and spor­ty nation, but from the point of view of public health, efforts must be made to inc­rea­se the pro­por­tion of the popu­la­tion who are phy­sical­ly acti­ve so that it exceeds the mini­mum tar­get set by the WHO.

It’s impor­tant to invest in encou­ra­ging phy­sical acti­vi­ty among children and young people and in pro­jects aimed at main­tai­ning the func­tio­nal capaci­ty of older people.

Sources:


Wenn­man H, Boro­du­lin K, Jousi­lah­ti P. Vapaa-ajan lii­kun­ta ja fyy­si­nen aktii­vi­suus lisään­ty­vät Suo­mes­sa WHO:n tavoit­teen mukai­ses­ti. 
The per­ma­nent address of the publica­tion is https://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978–952-343–381‑6


Phy­sical acti­vi­ty for health – step by step Weekly Phy­sical Acti­vi­ty Recom­men­da­tion for 18–64-year-olds UKK Ins­ti­tu­te, 2019. https://ukkinstituutti.fi/en/products-services/physical-activity-recommendations/weekly-physical-activity-recommendation-for-18–64-year-olds/