TUESDAY, June 23, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Physical activity prevalence has contributed to averting premature mortality on a global scale, with about 3.9 million premature deaths averted annually, according to a study published in the July issue of The Lancet Global Health.

Tessa Strain, Ph.D., from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, and colleagues estimated country-specific, mean prevented fraction for the population (PFP) values, corresponding to the percentage of mortality averted by physical activity in 168 countries. The number of premature deaths averted for all adults and by gender was estimated using mortality data for all people in a country who were 40 to 74 years of age.

The researchers found a global median PFP of 15.0 percent, which varied from 6.6 to 20.5 percent; this conservatively equated to 3.9 million premature deaths averted annually. The highest median prevented fraction was 16.6 percent for the African region, while the Americas had the lowest fraction (13.1 percent). Compared with high-income countries, low-income countries tended to have higher prevented fractions (group median, 17.9 versus 14.1 percent). The median prevented fraction was higher for men than for women worldwide (16.0 versus 14.1 percent).

“We’re used to looking at the downsides of not getting enough activity — whether that’s sports or a gym or just a brisk walk at lunchtime — but by focusing on the number of lives saved, we can tell a good news story of what is already being achieved,” Strain said in a statement.

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