The number of Kenyans not active enough to stay healthy is three times more than in Uganda, which has the most active population in the world.
A global report on physical activity released by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday shows only 5.5 per cent of Ugandans are not active enough, the smallest number in any country in the world.
On the other hand 15.4 per cent of adult Kenyans, the report shows are not as active as recommended by WHO.
The report shows almost a quarter of the world population or 1.4 billion people are not doing the recommended 150 minutes of moderate, or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week.
Of the studied 168 countries only seven: Uganda, Mozambique, Lesotho, Tanzania, Niue, Vanuatu, and Togo had less than 10 per cent of their populations not active enough. This means more than 90 per cent of their populations met the recommended physical activity levels.
On the other had Kuwait had the highest number of people, 67 per cent not active as recommended.
The report shows globally four countries Kuwait, American Samoa, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq had half of their population not active enough.
Most countries with more active people the report shows are likely to be poorer than those with less active populations. “Levels of insufficient physical activity are particularly high and still rising in high-income countries,” says the report.
The study involving 1.9 million participants from 168 countries included 4,127 Kenyans from both rural and urban areas.
The Kenyans had been reached through questioners and the WHO led Kenya STEPS Survey 2015.
The survey had investigated the risk factors predisposing Kenyans in developing non communicable disease including a sedentary lifestyle.
The STEP survey had concluded that 6.5 per cent of Kenyans did not engage in the recommended amount of physical activity.
However with additional data the new global report shows 15.4 per cent of Kenyans are not active as recommended.
The inactive Kenyans included 15.9 per cent of males and 16.9 per cent females who like in 159 of the study countries were more sedentary.
To capture more of women activities, the new report included physical activity at workplace, recreation, transport as well as household work but still women lagged behind men.
Research, the report says has shown that women tend to do less leisure-time activity, and lower-intensity activity than men, which may explain the differences.
In a statement released on Wednesday WHO said physical activity had been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, and breast and colon cancer.
Additionally, physical activity has positive effects on mental health, delays the onset of dementia, and can help the maintenance of a healthy weight.
In recognition of this strong link between physical activity and health, WHO says member countries have agreed to reduce inactivity by 10 per cent by 2025 and 15 per cent by 2030.
Most countries with higher active populations are in poor regions with most of the activities being work or transport (walking to work or to hustle) related.
In Kenya the STEP survey showed 69 per cent of total physical activity was related to work, 26 per cent to transport and five per cent to recreation.
But this the report suggest may be changing as more people in poor countries move to towns and get access to motorized transport to replace walking.
For example the number of registered motorized vehicles in Kenya jumped to 2.8 million units in 2016 from 1.7 million in 2012.
To caution, poor countries from adopting the sedentary lifestyles of the rich nations, WHO suggest they adopt policies which encourage non motorized transport.
“Such would include walking and cycling, while promoting participation in active recreation and sports in leisure time,” says the new study.
In the Kenya National Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases 2015 – 2020 the government promises to promote physical activities in all communities, private and public institutions, work places and health facilities.