Sedentary Lifestyles Cost Almost As Many Lives As Smoking: Report

We all know that living a sedentary lifestyle is seriously bad for us —  but you may not have realized it was this bad.

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A recent series of studies, which looked at more than one million people, found that physical inactivity causes more than 5 million deaths a year. That’s almost as many as smoking, which the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates kills 6 million a year.


In addition, researchers found that physical inactivity costs the global economy nearly $67.5 billion a year in healthcare and productivity losses.

Meanwhile, just one our a day of exercise could eliminate most of that, they said.

At a briefing in London last week, researchers warned of the “pandemic of physical inactivity,” citing the fact that one quarter of adults worldwide fail to exercise for at least 150 minutes of exercise a week, the WHO’s minimum recommendation.

Even this recommendation of just 2.5 hours a week falls woefully short, as researchers suggested we need at least one hour a day of physical activity, or 7 hours per week.

“You don’t need to do sport or go to the gym … but you do need to do at least one hour a day,” said Ulf Ekelund, a professor at the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences and Cambridge University, who recommended walking at 5.6 km/hour or cycling at 16 km/hour as easy examples.

They also debunked the myth that sitting for eight hours a day is slowly killing us. People who sat for that long, but were otherwise active, had a lower risk of premature death than those who sat for fewer hours, but were less active. It’s more about how much you move, rather than how long you spend sitting.

The greatest risk of premature death was, of course, for those who spent long hours sitting and did not exercise whatsoever.

Bottom line: Daily exercise is essential for overall health. Time to get moving.

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