41.3 pc Indians do not meet WHO recommended physical activity level: ICMR survey

Indians spend less than 10 minutes a day in intense physical activity; 3.5 pc do yoga

gym-exercise-working-out-aayush Representational image | Aayush Goel

Urban Indians are sitting too much. And, more women than men are doing so. The latest national non-communicable disease monitoring survey (NNMS) report (2017-2018) revealed that 41.3 per cent Indians did not meet the WHO recommended physical activity level. Over half (60.2 per cent) women in urban India were found to be insufficiently physically active, while the corresponding figure among men stood at 44.2 per cent.

According to the WHO, adults over 18 years should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week, or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous intensity activity accumulating at least 600 METS (metabolic equivalent minutes a week).

The survey results suggest that in a day, Indians spent an average of 9.1 minutes in vigorous activity. Urban Indians moved less than their rural counterparts—those in urban areas spent 5.5 minutes while those in rural areas spent 10.9 minutes in a vigorous activity. Men spent 14.7 minutes and women 3.1 minutes on an average in a vigorous activity.

The average minutes spent by adults in moderate level activities was estimated to be 79 minutes per day—urban adults spent 56.7 minutes and rural adults 90.2 minutes. Adults in the age group 18-44 years spent a total of 80.8 minutes and those in age group of 45-69 years spent 74.8 minutes per day in moderate activities. On a typical day, Indians spent an average of five hours in sedentary activities—sitting, reclining and watching television, working on a computer, playing games on a mobile/tablet, talking to friends, or other activities such as knitting, embroidery, sitting in office, according to the survey. Besides, despite the central government’s push for yoga, only 3.5 per cent adult men and women (18-69 years) were practicing yoga, results suggest.

The survey is the first of its kind on non-communicable diseases using standardized tools and methods, covering men and women between 15-69 years in urban and rural areas of the country. It covered a national sample of 600 primary sampling units from 348 districts in 28 states in collaboration with eleven institutions. The report was launched virtually by the Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, at the foundation day celebrations and launch of the decadal year of the Indian Council of Medial Research – National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research (ICMR-NCDIR), Bengaluru.

The results also show that one in every three adults and more than one-fourth proportion of men used some form of tobacco and had alcohol in the past 12 months. More than two in five adults and one in four adolescents were doing insufficient physical activity, while more than one in every four adults and 6.2 per cent adolescents were overweight or obese. Almost three out of ten adults had raised blood pressure and 9.3 per cent had raised blood glucose. A quarter of Indians were overweight (26.1 per cent), 32.2 per cent had central obesity (waist circumference higher than or equal to 90cms in men, and higher than or equal to 80cms in women).

Besides not doing enough physical activity, Indians were also not getting themselves checked regularly. Only 1.7 per cent men and women had ever undergone a screening test for oral cancer; while 1.6 per cent and 2.2 per cent of women (30–69 years) had ever undergone clinical breast examination and screening for breast and cervical cancer, respectively.

Only 29.2 per cent of those surveyed were aware of their raised blood pressure, 16 per cent were currently on treatment, and 12.3 per cent had their blood pressure in control. Half of the adults in the survey said they never got their blood pressure measured in their life. While 41.0 per cent had it measured during the last 12 months, 61.3 percent of older adults aged between 50-69 years said that they had their blood pressure measured at least once in their life, and 51.3 per cent said they had it checked in the last year.