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Not Exercising More Deadly Than Obesity

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Not Exercising More Deadly Than Obesity

A 20-minute brisk walk each day can lower odds of early death

Being sedentary may be twice as deadly as being obese, according to a British study. But as little as 20 minutes of brisk walking each day can reduce the risk of an early death by as much as 30 percent.

“Efforts to encourage small increases in physical activity in inactive individuals likely have significant health benefits,” said lead author Ulf Ekelund, a senior investigator scientist in the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge. “We estimated that eradicating physical inactivity in the population would reduce the number of deaths twice as much as if obesity was eradicated.”

For the study, researchers collected data from 334,000 participants. Over an average of 12 years of follow-up, they measured height, weight, waist circumference and self-reported levels of physical activity. The results? A moderate amount of physical activity was crucial to lowering the chances of early death. The risk reduction was greatest in normal weight people, but overweight and obese people also saw a benefit.

The report, published in the January 14 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, estimated that 337,000 of the 9.2 million deaths of European men and women were caused by obesity, but a sedentary lifestyle was connected to double that number of deaths. This research, Ekelund said, shows that it is as important to increase levels of physical activity as it is to reduce the levels of obesity—maybe even more so.

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BHM Edit Staff