Which countries have been ranked as the laziest in the world?

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  • And which are the most active?

    Words by Jadie Troy-Pryde

    Your time spent on weekly exercise might be on par with the average – but how does the UK fare when it comes to the laziest countries in the world? Are we a nation of walkers or taxi takers? Who outranks us and who are we zooming past?

    We might be proud of ourselves for busting out a record number of burpees during a sweat session, but according to a new study from the University of Stanford we’re not actually doing that well – so there’s no need to smugly saunter into the office after a pre-work Crossfit session just yet.

    Scientists analysed 68 million days’ worth of data from people’s smartphones to calculate how active each country was, taking into account the number of steps individuals took daily. They used the information from around 720,000 people across 46 countries to rank us on our activity.

    The results show that Hong Kong is the clear winner, with the average person there covering 6,880 steps a day – which is great when compared to the national average of 4,961. In last place was Saudi Arabia, narrowly beaten by Canada and Australia.

    Although the UK didn’t come last, we were comfortably in the laziest third, ranking 36 out of 46 with individuals averaging around 5,444 steps a day.

    Here’s how every country ranked:

      1. Hong Kong
      2. China
      3. Sweden
      4. South Korea
      5. Czech Republic
      6. Japan
      7. Singapore
      8. Norway
      9. Ukraine
      10. Netherlands
      11. Spain
      12. Taiwan
      13. Denmark
      14. Russia
      15. Chile
      16. Switzerland
      17. Turkey
      18. Finland
      19. Germany
      20. France
      21. Poland
      22. Brazil
      23. Isreal
      24. Thailand
      25. Hunary
      26. Italy
      27. Portugal
      28. Belgium
      29. Mexico
      30. United Arab Emirates
      31. Indonesia
      32. Romania
      33. South Africa
      34. Ireland
      35. Malaysia
      36. United Kingdom
      37. Qatar
      38. India
      39. Greece
      40. Philippines
      41. New Zealand
      42. United States
      43. Egypt
      44. Canada
      45. Australia
      46. Saudi Arabia

    The study was published in the journal Nature, and despite highlighting the importance of an active lifestyle the scientists stressed that the number of steps taken didn’t necessarily correlate with obesity levels. Instead, the ‘activity inequality’ was an indicator of obesity within a country, meaning the bigger the difference between the fittest and laziest people the higher obesity rates were likely to be.

    Researcher Tim Althoff said: ‘For instance, Sweden had one of the smallest gaps between activity rich and activity poor, it also had one of the lowest rates of obesity.’

    So while counting your steps isn’t the only way to monitor how active you are, it’s not a terrible idea to walk instead of taking the tube every now and then.

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