The U.S. is one of the world’s laziest countries, according to a new Stanford University study that used smartphone measurements of the number of steps taken by people in 46 countries.
The study, published in the journal Nature, included 700,000 participants and was “1,000 times larger than any previous study on human movement,” co-leader and Stanford bioengineering professor Scott Delp said, the BBC reported.
Countries with the highest average number of steps walked included China, Ukraine, Japan, and No. 1 Hong Kong, with 6,880 steps walked per day on average, USA Today reported.
The U.S. ranked in the bottom half of countries represented, with 4,774 steps walked per day, just below the worldwide average of 4,961 steps. Indonesia had the least steps walked with 3,513 per day on average, USA Today reported.
The study found that countries where people walked a similar amount of steps each day had lower rates of obesity, whereas countries where some people walked a lot and others walked very little had higher rates of obesity. The U.S. falls into the latter category, with high levels of what the study called “activity inequality.”
The study analyzed a total of 68 million days’ worth of data and tracks people’s activity over longer periods of time than previous studies, the BBC said.
Women averaged about 1,000 fewer steps than men in the U.S., and suburban areas reported fewer steps on average than urban, city areas that are more pedestrian-friendly.
Researchers hope the data might help design towns, cities, and neighborhoods that encourage more physical activity.