Lack of Exercise is More Harmful to the Health than You Might Think

by IVL

With a rising trend toward health and fitness, sedentary people are getting off the couch, but they may not realize the importance of regular exercise.  According to a study published in the English medical journal, The Lancet, one in 10 people die each year from health problems associated with lack of exercise.  This compares to the amount of deaths each year caused by smoking.

Most people know that lack of exercise can affect the health, but results from research may be surprising.

Researchers concluded that lack of exercise contributes to major diseases and to risks for premature death.  It is responsible for about:

  • 6 percent of all heart disease
  • 7 percent of Type 2 diabetes cases
  • 10 percent of breast cancers
  • 10 percent of colon cancers
  • 9 percent of premature deaths

Other Health Issues Related to Lack of Exercise

In addition to the diseases mentioned above, studies show lack of exercise contributes to even more health problems.  These include high blood pressure, stroke, metabolic syndrome, elevated cholesterol levels, and the development of anxiety and/or depression.

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The Effects of Exercise on Morbidity

Researchers in The Lancet study concluded that if sedentary people increased physical activity by just 10 percent on a regular basis, it would save roughly 533,000 lives annually.  A regular increase in physical activity of 25 percent among sedentary people would save approximately 1.3 million lives each year.

Exercise Recommendations

To prevent health issues related to lack of exercise, people should aim to reach or exceed a minimum amount of physical activity each week.  Most health care professionals recommend 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise five times per week or 75 minutes of intense physical activity or a combination of both. 

Moderate exercise might include mowing the lawn, brisk walking or recreational biking, and more intense physical activity might include running or jogging, tennis, swimming or cross-country skiing.  Adding strength training to an exercise routine a few times per week helps keep muscles and bones strong and boosts metabolism.  

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