Sedentary Lifestyles May Be Worse Than Smoking

Sedentary Lifestyles May Be Worse Than Smoking

It's common knowledge that there are many benefits to being fit, but one large new study found that skipping out on the gym is practically the worse thing you can do for your health. They looked at more than 120,000 patients (their average age being 53) who had taken an exercise treadmill test at the clinic sometime between 1994 to 2014. Researchers analyzed mortality rates among volunteers, their history of disease and overall physical condition.

Dr Wael Jaber, co-author of the study, called the results surprising. Indicator of increased risk of 500%.

Jaber noted that while the dangers of leading a sedentary lifestyle and being out of shape are well-known, he admitted that he was surprised by the study's findings which indicate that both states 'overwhelm even the risk factors as strong as smoking, diabetes or even end-stage disease'.

Researchers suggest that risks must be conveyed to the general public of being unfit should be considered a strong of a risk factor as is smoking, diabetes, and hypertension if not stronger than all of them; and should be treated as a disease that can actually be cured with the prescription of exercise.

"It should be treated nearly as a disease that has a prescription, which is called exercise", he said. Indeed, he comments, "There is no level of exercise or fitness that exposes you to risk". The risk of dying was twice as much among those who fared poorly on the treadmill compared to those who had kidney failure on dialysis.

Runners in the City 2 Surf race
Runners in the City 2 Surf race

What made the study so unique, beyond the sheer number of people studied, he said was that researchers weren't relying on patients self-reporting their exercise. In those over the age of 70, elite performers had a almost 30 percent reduced risk of mortality compared to high performers.

When compared to people with the lowest fitness, the authors estimated, elite fitness was associated with an 80 percent reduction in mortality risk.

"If you compare the risk of sitting versus the highest performing on the exercise test, the risk is about three times higher than smoking", Jaber explained. Elite performers were defined as having aerobic fitness in the top two and half percent by age and gender, and demonstrated fitness levels comparable to endurance athletes.

Dr. Satjit Bhusri, a cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital, who was not involved in the study, said this reinforces what we know. Doctors need to give patients prescriptions for exercise, the body needs to move, run, and walk; it's all about getting up and moving.

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