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Consequences of Physical Inactivity

Physical inactivity has serious repercussions on productivity and the number of years of life in good health [1]. Moreover, one person in ten in the world (i.e., more than 5.3 million) dies each year because of physical inactivity [2].

Impact on health

Physical inactivity is a risk factor for overweight, obesity, and numerous chronic diseases [3]:

  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Cancer
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Osteoporosis
Among children and youth

Over the past few years, the physical condition of children and youth has deteriorated to such a point that a growing number of them present risk factors for cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes [4].

Impact on public finances

Physical inactivity is responsible for a substantial portion of direct and indirect healthcare costs [5, 6]:

Costs of physical inactivity in Canada in 2009
Direct $2.4 billion
Indirect $4.3 billion
Total $6.8 billion
This represents 3.7% of total healthcare costs.

The costs associated with physical inactivity and obesity will soon reach such a level that they will absorb a considerable amount of government funding allocated to other sectors [7].

Would you like to discuss this topic with us?

Contact Corinne Voyer, Director:

[1] & [5] Global Advocacy for Physical Activity, the Advocacy Council of the International Society for Physical Activity and Health (2010). Toronto Charter for Physical Activity: A Global Call to Action. Consulted on January 14, 2013.

[2] Lee, I-M. & al. (2012). Effect of physical inactivity on major non-communicable diseases worldwide: an analysis of burden of disease and life expectancy. The Lancet, 380 (9838), 219-229.

[3] & [6] Janssen, I. (2012). Health care costs of physical inactivity in Canadian adults. Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, 37, 1-4.

[4] Comité scientifique de Kino-Québec (2011). L’activité physique, le sport et les jeunes – Savoir et agir. Québec : Secrétariat au loisir et au sport, ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport. Gouvernement du Québec.

[7] World Health Organization (2005). Preventing chronic diseases: a vital investment. Geneva, Switzerland: WHO. 

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