Canada is sorta known for a few things internationally—delicious poutines, a silly looking police force, and endless nature to hike, ski and swim in. But according to a study published in journal Nature, it's not like we are taking advantage of the Great Outdoors because we are home to some of the least active people on the planet.
By using iPhone accelerometers, which records a person's steps, researchers were able to track the physical activity of 111 countries across the globe. Their dataset spanned a total of 68 million days of physical activity from 717,527 people.
On average, people took approximately 5,000 steps each day—about four kilometres. Just missing the mark, Canada recorded 4,819 steps a day. Americans fared only slightly worse, with 4,774 steps.
The most active countries were found in Europe and Asia. The people of Hong Kong walk 6,880 steps a day, and Britons (Britons!) walk 5,444 steps. Among the lowest were Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia, each receiving 3,513, 3,807, and 3,963 steps daily.
Researchers discovered that the countries with the least activity were found to have the highest activity inequality, which means these countries are home to a lot of non-active and active people, but not much in between. They also found a correlation between activity inequality and obesity.
"Individuals in the five countries with highest activity inequality are 196% more likely to be obese than individuals from the five countries with the lowest activity inequality," the study reports.
Even if countries share similar results, the greater the inequality, the bigger the people.
"For example, the USA and Mexico have similar average daily steps (4,774 versus 4,692), but the US exhibits larger activity inequality and higher obesity prevalence compared to Mexico," he study says.
According to data from 69 US cities, people were more likely to be active if they lived in a city with a higher walkability score. Walkability scores are based on a scale of 1 to 100 and are based on amenities (such as shops and parks) within a 0.25 to 1.5 mile radius and measures of friendliness to pedestrians, such as city block length and intersection density. Cities with the highest walkability scores include New York, Boston, San Francisco, and Chicago. Unfortunately, no data on Canadian cities was provided.
To obtain the data, researchers used an app called Azumio Argus. They then narrowed the data to 46 countries with more than 1,000 Azumio users. According to the journal article this study presents a new paradigm for population activity studies by demonstrating that smartphones can deliver new insights about key health behaviours.
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