Physical inactivity or a sedentary lifestyle is considered an important risk factor for developing noncommunicable diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends performing at least 150 minutes (two and a half hours) of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 (1 hour, 15 minutes) of vigorous-intensity activity per week. Walking fast or dancing counts as moderate-intensity, while vigorous includes running, cycling or swimming laps.
In Mexico, the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) captures relevant data regarding the physical activity carried out by the population aged 18 years and over during their leisure time. This has been done annually since 2015 through the Sports and Physical Exercise Practice Module (MOPRADEF). In November 2017 MOPRADEF, INEGI gathered information from 2,336 households.
According to the results, only 42.4% of the population is physically active. This means that more than half of Mexicans (57.6%) do not perform physical activity during their leisure time. Most respondents performed physical activity for health (59.6%), while only 2 out of 10 did it for fun (19%) or to look better (17.6%).
Men are more active (49.8%) than women (36%). This proportion has also remained similar since 2013. In both, the 18 to 24 years group is the one who practices more physical activity (in women, 45.5% and in men, 65.8%). In general, physical activity practice decreases with age, until being performed 29.5% of women and 39.1% of men over 55 years of age.
Only half of the physically active respondents (49.1%) meet the WHO recommendation, performing around 5 hours per week. On the other hand, those who practice it insufficiently performed around an hour and 37 minutes. Previously it had been reported in the 2016 National Health and Nutrition Survey (ENSANUT 2016) that only 14.4% of the population did not comply with the WHO recommendation. However, both data are not comparable because ENSANUT 2016 took into account minutes from any physical activity, while in MOPRADEF only physical activity during leisure time was accounted for.
The majority of the active population prefer to exercise in public places (62.8%); of these, only 4 out of 10 reach a level of sufficiency (42.9%). Although a smaller proportion practice it on private facilities (35.5%) such as gyms, almost 7 out of 10 comply with the recommendation (66.1%). The preferred time for physical activity is during the morning (37%), followed by the evening (30.2%) and at night (19.1%).
On the other hand, most of the inactive people had practiced physical activity at some time during their lives (73.5%). The main reasons for which they do not currently practice it include lack of time (47.3%), work-related fatigue (24.3%) or health problems (16.5%).
It is important to promote regular physical activity in the adult population, due to the multiple benefits to health. Besides preventing noncommunicable diseases, it allows maintaining a level of physical and mental well-being, improving lung and heart function, strengthen bone health, as well as decreasing stress and depression.
Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía. Módulo de Práctica Deportiva y Ejercicio Físico 2017 (MOPRADEF). 2018. Available from: http://www.beta.inegi.org.mx/proyectos/enchogares/modulos/mopradef/
Secretaría de Salud. Encuesta Nacional de Salud y Nutrición 2016. 2016. Available from: http://oment.uanl.mx/descarga/ensanut_mc2016.pdf
World Health Organization. 10 facts on physical activity. 2018 Available from: http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/physical_activity/en/