OECD: Europe's couch potatoes causing 10,000 early deaths a year
Many people living in the European Union fail to exercise sufficiently, leading to more than 10,000 premature deaths annually, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said on Friday.
More than a third of EU residents do not reach the level of exercise recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) of 150 minutes of moderate to intensive exercise weekly, the OECD said from its Paris headquarters on the basis of a survey.
The study found that 3.5 million cases of depression and 3.8 million cases of cardiovascular disease could be prevented by 2050 if people exercised for 150 minutes per week.
It found that only 40% of people regularly exercise, with a wide variation among countries. While two thirds of adult Finns regularly exercise, the figure drops to one in five in other countries.
Women exercise less than men, with this particularly evident in younger age groups. Some 73% of men aged 15 to 24 exercise at least once a week, against just 58% of women.
Income is another key factor. Among those who described themselves as working class, only 24% said they exercised regularly, whereas 51% in the higher income groups said they did so.
More physical activity would not only be good for one's own health, but also for the public purse: If everyone followed the WHO recommendations for more physical activity, an average of 0.6 per cent of health expenditure could be saved.