One in two Koreans physically inactive: Report

The portion of people meeting the recommended level of physical activity among Korean adults decreased by more than 10 percentage points from 58.3 per cent in 2014.

No Kyung-min

No Kyung-min

The Korea Herald


File photo of a person lying on a couch. PHOTO: UNSPLASH

January 8, 2024

SEOUL – Almost half of Korean adults are not moving their bodies enough, failing to meet the physical activity standards set by the World Health Organization, a health report revealed on Sunday.

According to the “Physical Activity Guidelines for Koreans Revised Edition,” released by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, as of 2021, 47.1 percent of Korean adults fell short of recommended physical activity levels, compared to the global average of 72 percent who meet the WHO’s recommended physical activity levels.

The portion of people meeting the recommended level among Korean adults decreased by more than 10 percentage points from 58.3 percent in 2014.

The WHO recommends that adults aged between 18 and 64 engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity, per week.

Moderate intensity activities include brisk walking, riding a bike, dancing, hiking and playing racket sports, while vigorous intensity activities encompass riding fast or uphill biking, stair climbing, skipping and interval running.

Seniors aged over 65 are encouraged to adhere to the same physical activity routine as younger adults, with the addition of incorporating balance exercises on more than three days per week.

Moreover, the report recommends that children and adolescents aged 6 to 18 engage in at least 60 minutes of moderate level physical activity daily. While doing so, they should include vigorous aerobic activities, bone-growth stimulating activities and strength training on more than three days each week within their routines.

The common recommendation for all age groups is to minimize sedentary behaviors. Specifically, it suggests increasing physical activity instead of spending excessive time watching TV or on computers and smartphones.

Emphasizing the crucial role of physical activity, the report sheds light on its correlation with the increased risk of developing various diseases, potentially leading to severe consequences. From an economic perspective, approximately 76 trillion won ($57.8 billion) has been spent on health care costs, coupled with a productivity loss of 20 trillion won, attributed to deaths resulting from physical inactivity.

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