THE CIRCULAR

In which country do people walk the most?

People crossing the road @Ryoji Iwata via Unsplash

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), overweight and obesity have now reached “epidemic” proportions in Europe. This scourge is linked in particular to a sedentary lifestyle, which can be combated with a simple physical activity: walking. In which countries do people take the most steps every day? Researchers have looked into this question.

“Overweight and obesity rates have reached epidemic proportions across the region [Europe] and continue to rise.” These are the words of the European branch of the World Health Organisation (WHO). According to a report published by the United Nations (UN) agency on Tuesday 3 May 2022, almost a quarter of adults in Europe are now obese. This scourge is linked in particular to a sedentary lifestyle, which highlights the importance of physical activity, especially the simplest and most accessible of all: walking. But which countries have the most walking and which have the least? Research data from Stanford University can help answer these questions.

Researchers study the habits of 717,000 people

Infographic made using Canva

To create this infographic, I used a study conducted by researchers at Stanford University in the United States, published in the scientific journal Nature in 2017. The authors looked at the average number of daily steps taken by more than 717,000 people in 111 countries over a 95-day period.

The scientists analysed data collected by the pedometer present in many smartphones, obtaining data from a “step counter” mobile application developed by the American company Azumio. The study found that the country with the highest number of steps taken was China: an average of 6,189 per day over the study period among those who had installed the app (led by Hong Kong with 6,880 steps). At the other end of the spectrum is Indonesia (3,513 steps). This is above the average for people whose habits were tracked by the researchers: 4,961 steps.

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