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One in two adults takes too little exercise – Austrians sit for an average of 5.3 hours a day

New Austrian exercise recommendations for all age groups compiled with the assistance of MedUni Vienna
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(Vienna, 15 February 2021) Only 47% of adults in Austria (48% of men and 45% of women) fulfil the minimum recommendations for endurance-based physical activity. Austrians spend an average of 5.3 hours a day sitting down. This was the finding of an analysis conducted by Austrian researchers for the Global Observatory for Physical Activity. These charts have recently been published for 162 countries throughout the world. The Austrian recommendations for physical activity were also revised to reflect the latest scientific literature and have been reissued and published. A range of between 150 and 300 minutes of physical activity per week is now being recommended. The project was led by Sylvia Titze from the University of Graz and Thomas Dorner from MedUni Vienna.

The Global Observatory for Physical Activity (GoPA) is an international organisation consisting of physical activity researchers, epidemiologists, public-health decision-makers and practitioners, which catalogues and analyses global data on physical activity and health. This data serves as a basis for comparing physical activity levels of people in different countries. The Austrian Physical Activity Chart is available here.

Minimum of 150 to 300 minutes of exercise per week recommended
The new Austrian exercise recommendations were also expanded to include additional target groups and are formulated for: pre-school children, children and adolescents, adults, older adults, women during a straightforward pregnancy and afterwards. Adults with chronic diseases and people with physical, sensory or mental handicaps were also included.

Instead of a minimum amount of exercise (at least 150 minutes per week) an exercise range (at least 150 to 300 minutes per week) is now recommended. One point that is emphasised for all target groups is that sedentary activities must be interspersed with frequent bursts of activity.
Recommendations for muscle-strengthening exercises prior to the recommended endurance-based exercise highlight the importance of muscle-strengthening activities. In contrast to the last exercise recommendations published in 2010, the new recommendations no longer stipulate that activities must last at least 10 minutes before they have a beneficial effect on health.

Nearly 8% of all deaths in Austria are attributable to a lack of physical activity, the global figure being 9%. "It is likely that in future, due to the COVID restrictions and particularly the loss of the daily commute as more people are working from home, the number of deaths attributable to lack of exercise will increase significantly," explains Thomas Dorner from MedUni Vienna's Institute for Social and Preventive Medicine.

Internationally, Austria compares well when it comes to its exercise-promoting policy and research in the area of physical activity. MedUni Vienna has also contributed to research in this field by producing many publications on exercise and health. The Austrian physical activity monitoring system was introduced in 2017 and this will be repeated at set intervals in order to identify trends in physical activity behaviour. An initial publication from this physical activity monitoring system, in which the individual federal states in Austria are analysed in terms of exercise behaviour, favourable environment for physical activities and health status, was likewise recently published.

Austrian recommendations for physical activity for adults and older adults with and without physical, sensory or mental handicaps and for people with chronic conditions.
Sylvia Titze, Christian Lackinger, Christian Fessl, Thomas Ernst Dorner, Verena Zeuschner;
Gesundheitswesen 2020, DOI 10.1055/a-1205-1285

Determinants of Exercise, Fulfilling the Recommendations for Aerobic Physical Activity and Health Status: Results of a Correlation Study in the Federal States of Austria
Thomas Ernst Dorner, Sandra Haider, Christian Lackinger, Ali Kapan, Sylvia Titze;
Gesundheitswesen 2020, DOI 10.1055/a-1191-4309