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

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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