Inactivity- The Silent Killer

Inactivity- The Silent Killer

Let's consider this scenario

You are presented with two middle aged men. One is clearly overweight and the other appears to sit at a comfortable, average size. The overweight man has been trying to lose weight by exercising 3 times a week, but cannot sort out his diet and continues to put on the pounds. The average sized man sits around all day working and doesn't feel the need to exercise because he is already thin.

In your opinion, which man is most likely to suffer an early death due to health problems?

I'm sure that the majority of you would have said the overweight man, as it is common knowledge that people with a high body fat percentage suffer many health problems, especially cardiovascular ones. Whilst this answer is entirely possible, it could easily be the case that the other man is in even more danger. 

A recent study done at the University of Cambridge, shows that lack of exercise is responsible for  twice  as many deaths as obesity!

Researchers followed the lives of 334,161 Europeans for 12 years, assessing exercise levels and waistlines and recording death counts. The results were extremely interesting, showing that the greatest risk of an early death was in those classed as 'inactive', irrespective of BMIs and waistline measurements. They also predicted that eliminating inactivity in Europe would cut mortality rates by nearly 7.5%, or 676,000 deaths, but eliminating obesity would cut rates by just 3.6%.

The study goes on to suggest that simply undertaking a 20-minute brisk walk each day, or an equivalent exercise, would move you from the inactive group to the moderately inactive group, lowering your risk of premature death by 16-30%. 
There are 24 hours in a day - that's 1440 minutes - 20 of which you could be active - that's not even 1.5% of your day. 

So What Can You Do?

When I read about this recent piece of research I was absolutely shocked. Not specifically that a sedentary lifestyle causes more deaths that obesity, but that people would be willing to give their life away at the expense of being slightly active. 

Exercising really is easy and it doesn't have to be a chore. No one said you have to be running daily marathons or lifting Olympic weights, the research states that just a 20 minute brisk walk can decrease chances of a premature death by 16-30%. This could be during a lunch break, walking quickly to and from the train station or even strolling round your local park midway through the day instead of watching TV. This is the minimum you should be doing and it isn't difficult. 

Group exercise is another way you can add a bit more exercise to your life. It requires little drive and is a fun way to get your body moving. There are so many different style of classes to suit everyones likes and you can go with your friends, have a laugh and your instructor will give you all the motivation you need to keep going. 

Eating well is a difficult art, but exercising really is an easy thing to add into your life. There are so many different options you can choose from depending on your interests. Swimming, jogging, dancing, walking, team sports etc. It doesn't have to be intense, it just has to raise your heart rate. 

So next time you see someone overweight, don't feel safe in the knowledge that they are more unhealthy than you. Think about your own lifestyle choices and start moving and being active. 20 minutes is 1.5% of your day. Don't you owe it to yourself to give up that small amount of time if it means you will be able to live longer?