KARACHI - Terrorism, unemployment, poverty and inflation have caused people to be so depressed that they care less about their health,” said Nauman Ahmed, a psychiatrist.

While talking to The Nation on Wednesday, he said that nearly 80 percent youngsters in Pakistan do not feel secure. He said that this results in several emotional disorders among them. “A large number of youth are jobless, the country is mired in crisis related to terrorism, and inflation is high… how can people manage to devote themselves to healthy activities in such times?”

He said that the greatest levels of insufficient activity comparing women and men appeared in South Asia (43 versus 24 percent), central Asia, Middle East and North Africa (40 versus 26 percent).

Across regions, many individual countries recorded large differences in insufficient activity between women and men, such as 40 vs. 16 percent in Bangladesh, 31 vs. 14 percent in Eritrea, 44 vs. 25 percent in India, 48 vs. 32 percent in the US and 40 vs. 32 percent in the UK.

According to recently published WHO report on the issue, inactivity puts physical and mental health of more than 1.4 billion adults at risk. Insufficient physical activity is a leading risk factor for non-communicable disease, negatively impacting mental health and overall quality of life.

The study highlights the well-established benefits of being physically active, including a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension and diabetes, as well as breast and colon cancer. Additionally, physical activity has positive effects on mental health, can delay the onset of dementia, and help people maintain a healthy weight. “Unlike other major global health risks, levels of insufficient physical activity are not falling worldwide, on average, and over a quarter of all adults are not reaching the recommended levels of physical activity for good health,” warns the study’s lead author, Regina Guthold of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Switzerland.

There has been little progress in improving physical activity levels during that 15-year period, with data projecting that if these trends continue, the 2025 global activity target of a 10 percent relative reduction in insufficient physical activity, will not be met.

“Addressing these inequalities in physical activity levels between men and women will be critical to achieving global activity targets and will require interventions to promote and improve women’s access to opportunities that are safe, affordable and culturally acceptable,” said WHO co-author Fiona Bull.

The study is based on self-reported activity levels – including at work, home, and in transit, as well as during leisure time – for those aged 18 and above, from 358 population-based surveys in 168 countries, consisting of around 1.9 million people.