45 Countries That Are More Sedentary Than the United States

Just over 40 percent of Americans don't get enough exercise. But that's still far better than some countries.

athletics-615.jpg(Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters)

With over a third of us now considered obese, you'd think Americans would top the charts for sedentary lifestyle and inactivity. But you'd be wrong. In fact, that honor goes to the Republic of Malta, where 72 percent of the population doesn't get enough exercise.

That's according to a new report published today in The Lancet that measured physical activity in 119 countries. Researchers set the threshold for exercise at 30 minutes of moderate activity five times a week. Those who engaged in more vigorous exercise for at least 20 minutes three times a week also made the cut. Then the study's authors combed through the literature on exercise intervention in various countries to assemble the data. 

The United States actually does pretty well -- it ranks 46th on the vegetable ladder -- with 41 percent of Americans doing less than 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week. About a third of males are physically inactive, compared to 47.4 percent of women -- a difference of almost 14 points.

After Malta, the next five countries include Swaziland (69 percent inactive), Saudi Arabia (68.8 percent), Serbia (68.3 percent), Argentina (68.3 percent), and Micronesia (66.3 percent).

The Guardian has compiled all the data into an interactive chart (it doesn't seem to let you sort the results by country in order of inactivity, though, so click here for that): 

Presented by

Brian Fung is the technology writer at National Journal. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and has written for Foreign Policy and The Washington Post.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A Stop-Motion Tour of New York City

A filmmaker animated hundreds of still photographs to create this Big Apple flip book

Video

The Absurd Psychology of Restaurant Menus

Would people eat healthier if celery was called "cool celery?"

Video

This Japanese Inn Has Been Open For 1,300 Years

It's one of the oldest family businesses in the world.

Video

What Happens Inside a Dying Mind?

Science cannot fully explain near-death experiences.

More in Health

Just In