BACKGROUND: Physical activity is crucial to preventing noncommunicable diseases. This study aimed to provide up-to-date evidence on the epidemiology of insufficient physical activity across Nigeria to increase awareness and prompt relevant policy and public health response.
METHODS: A systematic literature search of community-based studies on physical inactivity was conducted. We constructed a meta-regression epidemiologic model to determine the age-adjusted prevalence and number of physically inactive persons in Nigeria for 1995 and 2020.
RESULTS: Fifteen studies covering a population of 13 814 adults met our selection criteria. The pooled crude prevalence of physically inactive persons in Nigeria was 52.0% (95% CI: 33.7-70.4), with prevalence in women higher at 55.8% (95% CI: 29.4-82.3) compared to men at 49.3% (95% CI: 24.7-73.9). Across settings, prevalence of physically inactive persons was significantly higher among urban dwellers (56.8%, 35.3-78.4) compared to rural dwellers (18.9%, 11.9-49.8). Among persons aged 20-79 years, the total number of physically inactive persons increased from 14.4 million to 48.6 million between 1995 and 2020, equivalent to a 240% increase over the 25-year period.
CONCLUSIONS: A comprehensive and robust strategy that addresses occupational policies, town planning, awareness and information, and sociocultural and contextual issues is crucial to improving physical activity levels in Nigeria.