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With the lack of appropriate data, we conducted a large household survey in 2013 to determine current rates of physical activity in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).


The Saudi Health Interview Survey is a national multistage survey of individuals aged 15 years or older. We used a multivariate logistic regression model to measure association between sociodemographic and selected characteristics and meeting the recommended levels of moderate and vigorous weekly physical activity.


Of a total of 12,000 households contacted, 10,735 (89.4%) participants completed Saudi Health Interview Survey. An estimated 4.5 million (34.5%) Saudis aged 15 years or older reported no weekly physical activity, while only 1.7 million (12.9%) meet the recommended levels of moderate physical activity (MPA). The likelihood of meeting MPA decreased with age, education, among women, those with a history of diagnosis of select chronic conditions, including diabetes. Similar results were found for the likelihood of meeting the recommended levels of vigorous weekly physical activity.


We found very low levels of physical activity in KSA. Perhaps, KSA can challenge communities or employers to devise solutions and reward those with the best results. These solutions would be of great value to other Gulf countries, as well.

Mokdad (, Bcheraoui, Tuffaha, Daoud, and Kravitz are with the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Al Mazroa, Al Saeedi, Memish, Basulaiman, and Al Rabeeah are with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Health of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.