It’s no secret that inactivity is bad for your health, but it may be worse than previously thought. According to a new study, it’s even more deadly than obesity—twice as deadly, in fact.
Researchers at Cambridge University studied more than 334,000 men and women over 12 years. After measuring height, weight, waist circumference and self-reported levels of physical activity over that time span, it was found that moderate physical activity helped to lower a person’s chances of premature death. Researchers concluded that exercise that burns around 100 calories a day, such as a brisk, 20-minute daily walk, can reduce the risk of an early death by 16 to 30 percent.
“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 Professor 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.”
Furthermore, based on recent data on deaths in Europe, researchers found that exercise was more important than body weight for longevity. Of the 9.2 million deaths amongst European men and women each year, 337,000 of these were attributed to obesity, but twice that many were attributed to inactivity.
“You don’t have to spend three hours a day lifting weights in the gym or competing in ultra-endurance events to be doing something positive for your health. Small, manageable bouts of physical activity, as this study proves, is an important step to living our most fit lives.”
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The study was published January 14, 2015, in the online edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.