95% of adults exercise too little in France

SPORT – Today, 35.5 million adults in France are exposed to high health risks. That is 95% of the population between the ages of 18 and 65, excluding pregnant and postmenopausal women.

This is according to an opinion of ANSES, the National Health Security Agency, which was made public on Tuesday 15 February. Risks related to the level of physical activity and sedentary lifestyle of adults were assessed. This opinion is based on the analysis of the results of various studies and reports conducted on this topic between 2011 and 2020.

‘We didn’t think the number would be this high’

According to the agency, we don’t move enough. Between the sport we underplay and our sedentary lifestyle that makes us adore the couch, 95% of us significantly increase our risk of developing related diseases such as type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular accidents.

“When we started the study, we didn’t think the figure would be this high,” explains de HuffPost Professor Irène Margaritis, Head of the Nutrition Risk Assessment Unit at ANSES. We know that we are in a society that moves little, but when we go into the details, the increase in risks is noticeable”.

Low-educated adults and those under 45 most affected

For example, the expertise shows that 70% of women are exposed to the risks associated with inactivity, compared to 42% for men. In addition, sitting more than 8 hours a day poses a health risk. Low-skilled adults and people under the age of 45 are most affected.

“Sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical activity are risk factors that are not very interdependent, specifies Pr Margaritis. They have specific effects for each. The problem is when the effects pile up.”

More than a third of adults combine a high sedentary lifestyle with insufficient physical activity, leading to even higher mortality and morbidity.

Confinement, worse than telecommuting

A sedentary lifestyle today is characterized by the time you spend in front of your screen in your spare time. However, the two lockdowns of 2020 caused a longer time on tablets, televisions and phones. This bad habit doesn’t seem to have lessened since then.

Likewise, telecommuting has been singled out as a source of extra-sedentary lifestyles, “but, adds Professor Margaritis, the problem isn’t telecommuting, it’s incarceration! Because you are very good at teleworking and exercising during your breaks. While incarceration has clearly increased the sedentary lifestyle.

Just here, to read the opinion of ANSES, if we want to eliminate the risk, we have to cycle for half an hour 5 times a week, swim 1 to 2 times a week and go to the gym or yoga class 2 to 3 times a week.

Unattainable goals?

It is therefore not surprising that 95% of us do not meet these criteria. ‘Yet the levels of evidence of danger are there, the professor assures, they are very high in fact. We know with certainty that this sum of activities really protects against risk.”

So how do you achieve these demanding goals?

“It’s not an individual order,” the professor tempers. Rather, it is a report addressed to the government. We tell people to do what they can, especially because we see the benefits of starting this kind of campaign, and at the same time we focus on the institutions: attention, society as it is now organized does not allow adults to exercising or reducing a sedentary lifestyle”.

You have to change the model

As proof, the car remains the preferred mode of transport. Outside the big cities, the distances from one place to another are too great to do on foot or by bike. Sleep time is shortened, so that the body does not get back the energy it needs to spend itself usefully. Sports time at school has also decreased because working hours have been extended. Because of school you can’t exercise as much as you should.

“All these elements show that our society is not adapted to the need for sport. The government must take this into account, Professor Irène Margaritis insists. We need to rethink our model so that everyone can avoid the risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise.”

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