cyclingMore than 20 million UK adults are classified as physically inactive increasing their risk of heart disease and costing the UK health service as much as £1.2 billion each year according to a new report from the British Heart Foundation.

The Physical Inactivity and Sedentary Behaviour Report represents the most up-to-date analysis of UK adults and their level of inactivity – one of the most significant national health crises threatening people’s cardiovascular health today.

The report shows that more than 20 million adults in the UK are failing to meet Government guidelines for physical activity, and that women are 36% more likely to be considered physically inactive than men. Statistics show the regions in England where people are most physically inactive, with the North West coming out worst as almost half of the adult population – 2.7 million adults– are insufficiently active.

Evidence is growing that also shows a sedentary lifestyle, regardless of how physically active you are, is associated with poor health. The estimates show that the average man in the UK spends a fifth of their lifetime sitting - the equivalent of 78 days each year. For women this is around 74 days a year.

More than 5 million deaths worldwide are attributed to physical inactivity. In the UK alone it causes one in ten premature deaths from coronary heart disease, and one in six deaths overall.  Evidence shows keeping physically active can reduce the risk of heart and circulatory disease by as much as 35% and risk of early death by as much as 30%.

Dr Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director of the British Heart Foundation, said: “Physical inactivity is one of the most significant global health crises of the moment. Levels of physical inactivity and sedentary behaviour in the UK remain stubbornly high, and combined these two risk factors present a substantial threat to our cardiovascular health and risk of early death.  Making physical activity easier and more accessible for all is of paramount importance if we are to reduce the burden of inactivity-related ill health.”