Physical (in)activity among Saudi Women

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) account for a large portion of mortality and morbidity in the oil-producing countries of the Arabian Peninsula (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates; UAE) (Rahim  et al., 2014; Mokdad et al., 2014). Physical inactivity has been estimated to be the leading cause of most NCDs (Lee et al., 2012). In the region surrounding Saudi Arabia, more than 1.2 million people died due to NCDs in 2008 (Rahim et al., 2014). With such a high prevalence, physical inactivity is a major public health burden in Saudi Arabia.

In Saudi Arabia, the prevalence of physical inactivity is extremely high, especially in women, and may be considered among the highest in the world (Al-Hazzaa 2004). A nationwide study, for example, showed that the prevalence of physical activity in Saudi Arabia is only 6.1% among men and among women only 1.9% (Mabry et al., 2016). According to the WHO’s 2016 diabetes country profile, 58.5% of the adult Saudi population were found to be physically inactive (52.1% of men and 67.7% of women) (WHO, 2016). In another study, the prevalence of physical inactivity was found to be 66.6% for the overall Saudi Arabia population (60.1% for men and 72.9% for women) (Al-Zalabani et al., 2015).


Increase our understanding of physical (in)activity among Saudi Women


 PhD thesis (5 papers)

Involved Researchers & Departments

  • Lujain Osabi (PhD student) & Dr. Jane Cramm -  Socio-Medical sciences, ESHPM 
  • Prof.dr Joris van de Klundert - Health Services Management & Organisation, ESHPM

Countries Involved

Saudi Arabia 


A. Al-Zalabani, N. Al-Hamdan, A. Saeed. The prevalence of physical activity and its socioeconomic correlates in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: a cross-sectional population-based national survey. J Taibah Univ Med Sci, 10 (2015), pp. 208-215

Al-Hazzaa HM. Prevalence of physical inactivity in Saudi Arabia: a brief review. East Mediterr Health J. 2004 Jul-Sep; 10(4-5):663-70.

I.-M. Lee, E.J. Shiroma, F. Lobelo, P. Puska, S.N. Blair, P.T. Katzmarzyk. Lancet Physical Activity Series Working Group. Effect of physical inactivity on major non-communicable diseases worldwide: an analysis of burden of disease and life expectancy. Lancet, 380 (2012), pp. 219-229.

R. Mabry, M.J. Koohsari, F. Bull, N. Owen. A systematic review of physical activity and sedentary behaviour research in the oil-producing countries of the Arabian Peninsula. BMC Public Health, 16 (2016), p. 1003

Mokdad AH, Jaber S, Aziz MI, AlBuhairan F, AlGhaithi A, AlHamad NM, Al-Hooti SN, Al-Jasari A, AlMazroa MA, AlQasmi AM, et al. The state of health in the Arab world, 1990–2010: an analysis of the burden of diseases, injuries, and risk factors. Lancet. 2014;383(9914):309–20.

Rahim HF, Sibai A, Khader Y, Hwalla N, Fadhil I, Alsiyabi H, Mataria A, Mendis S, Mokdad AH, Husseini A. Non-communicable diseases in the Arab world. Lancet. 2014;383(9914):356–67.

Contact info

Email address

Jane Murray Cramm, Prof., PhD (ESHPM)

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