A co-author of the study, she said that the study underlined the importance of integrating any form of physical activity into one's daily routine.
The finding confirms much of what has already been discovered from research done in wealthy nations.
Less than three per cent of participants achieved their 30 minutes through leisurely activities that one would normally associate with exercising, such as running or swimming.
"However, the study is admired for the large sample size; more than 130,000 participants from 17 different countries with different economic levels".
"If everyone was active for at least 150 minutes per week, over 7 years", says principal investigator Prof.
The researchers concluded that 1 in 20 cases of heart disease and 1 in 12 premature deaths could be prevented if everyone met World Health Organization guidelines. The advice on muscle-strengthening exercise is that it should be performed at least twice each week.
But estimates suggest that nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of the world's population are not meeting physical activity guidelines.
GETTY- STOCK IMAGEA brisk walk has life-lengthening effects
In the US, the figure is much higher, with that most adults (around 79 percent in 2014) are not meeting the recommended levels of physical activity.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, and about 70 percent of those deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, the researchers noted.
"Physical activity represents a low-priced approach to preventing cardiovascular disease and our study provides robust evidence to support public health interventions to increase all forms".
The study included participants aged 35 to 70 from urban and rural areas in rich and poor countries, who were followed over almost seven years. At the start of the study, each participant provided information on their socioeconomic status, lifestyle behaviours, medical history, family history of cardiovascular disease, weight, height, waist and hip measurements, and blood pressure. The team analysed rates of cardiovascular events including death from cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke, or heart failure and deaths.
The 17 countries taking part in the study were: Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, India, Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan, Poland, South Africa, Sweden, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Zimbabwe.
But it may be tricky for many to achieve, no matter the health benefits: the study found that only people who were able to build physical activity into their job, transport of housework were able to manage high levels of exercise. They also completed a questionnaire on the types of physical activity they completed over a typical week, which the researchers used to calculate their average activity levels.
"Risk of mortality was also higher for people who did not meet the recommended amount of activity - 6.4 percent compared to 4.2 percent for people who met guidelines".
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