Perhaps you haven’t been to the gym in a while or gone on a walk, but it’s not that big of a deal, right? Actually, it is. Recent research suggests that physical inactivity may be even more deadly than obesity.
Sedentary living can kill you
Physical inactivity, or a sedentary lifestyle, can be a major health hazard. It has been associated with cancer, heart disease, and premature death. Recent analysis of 334,00 people participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study found that sedentary behavior brings twice as much risk of death as obesity.
Data on the participants was compiled over a 12-year period. Each individual’s weight, height, waist measurements, and activity levels were tracked and assessed for connections with any cause of death. Physical inactivity had the greatest link with death from any cause.
However, lifestyle changes from inactivity to moderate inactivity had the most significant reduction in risk of death. This was particularly true for normal weight people, but it also benefited people of any body weight.
Applying the mortality rates from Europe in 2008 to a statistical model, researchers calculated that 337,000 deaths were the result of obesity, compared to 676,000 deaths from sedentariness. The researchers found that even a daily 20-minute walk could reduce the risk of death between 16 and 30 percent.
Belly fat is also dangerous
Another important finding of the study was that waist circumference was a larger contributing factor to mortality risk than overall body weight. Belly fat is strongly linked to several chronic health conditions, including stroke, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and premature death.
According to David Katz, Director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, Griffin Hospital, “at any given body weight, going from inactive to active can reduce the risk of premature mortality substantially. At any given level of activity, going from overweight to a more optimal weight can do the same. We have long known that not all forms of obesity are equally hazardous, and this study reaffirms that.”
Katz added, “losing weight if you have an excess around the middle, where it is most dangerous, exerts an influence on mortality comparable to physical activity. Losing excess weight that is not associated with a high waist circumference reduces mortality risk, but less – as we would expect.”
While activity alone can improve your overall health, it can also bring the added benefit of natural weight loss. Since the two are so closely connected, just staying active brings a two-for-one improvement.
Twenty minutes a day
One of the researchers, Professor Ulf Ekelund from Norway, said, “twenty minutes of physical activity, equivalent to a brisk walk, should be possible for most people to include on their way to or from work, or on lunch breaks, or in the evening instead of watching TV.”
We should all be able to move around for at least 20 minutes a day – not doing so may be deadly.
-The Alternative Daily