Lack of Exercise Twice as Deadly as Obesity

Lack of Exercise Twice  as Deadly as ObesityLack of Exercise Twice  as Deadly as Obesity

Even a small amount of exercise, such as a brisk daily 20 minute walk, reduces the risk of premature death.

Lack of exercise is twice as deadly as obesity, but a brisk 20-minute walk each day is all it takes to avoid an early death, Cambridge University has said.

A study of more than 334,000 people over 12 years found exercising was more important than body weight for longevity.

Researchers estimated that 337,000 of the 9.2 million deaths amongst European men and women each year were attributable to obesity but twice this number - 676,000 deaths - could be attributed to physical inactivity. They found that even small amounts of exercise, such as brisk 20 minute walk each day which burns around 100 calories, had major health impacts, reducing the risk of premature death, according to the online medicalnewstoday.  

The findings are published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Previous research has found that physical inactivity is linked to heart disease and cancer.

Avoiding inactivity reduced the risk of death from any cause by 7.35 per cent over the study period. In contrast, having a BMI under obesity levels was estimated to lower mortality by just 3.66 per cent.

 Simple Message

“This is a simple message: just a small amount of physical activity each day could have substantial health benefits for people who are physically inactive,” said study leader Prof. Ulf Ekelund, from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit at Cambridge University.

“Although we found that just 20 minutes would make a difference, we should really be looking to do more than this - physical activity has many proven health benefits and should be an important part of our daily life.”

Participants in the research, who had an average age of around 50, were all recruited to the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (Epic) study conducted across 10 European countries, including the UK.

Just under a quarter (22.7 per cent) were categorized as inactive, working in sedentary jobs without engaging in any recreational exercise.

June Davison, Senior Cardiac Nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Adults should aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week, carrying it out in sessions of 10 minutes or more.”

“Whether it’s going for a walk, taking a bike ride or using the stairs instead of the lift, keeping active every day will help reduce the risk of developing coronary heart disease.”