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With over five million deaths per year globally due to physical inactivity, Ulster University is playing a crucial role in a research project that aims to enhance the health and wellbeing of people around the world.

The Lancet Physical Activity Observatory project, which is being led by Ulster University in Northern Ireland, is for the first time ever bringing together researchers from 131 countries to develop an unprecedented world overview of physical activity and public health.

As part of the project, country factsheets have been created as an international benchmarking tool for governments to enhance physical activity policy and improve the health of its population. The factsheets, which will be updated every two years, highlight each country's physical activity profiles including deaths related to physical inactivity, exercise prevalence and national physical activity strategies.

Lead researcher, Professor Marie Murphy, said: "This project demonstrates how Ulster University's research into sport and exercise science is shaping public health policy on a global scale. Locally the research has revealed that 16.9% of all deaths in Northern Ireland are due to physical inactivity with only 60% or men and 48% of women undertaking sufficient physical activity for health.

"Physical inactivity increases the prevalence of chronic illness such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer which have huge burden on the healthcare sector, especially for low income countries.This project is the first of its kind to make a firm commitment to monitor global physical activity and health.

"The factsheets will become an invaluable measurement and advocacy tool for policy makers. It will serve to hold governments accountable for improving public health and encourage them to prioritise physical activity on the health agenda."