Lack of activity kills twice as many people as obesity

Just 20 minutes of brisk walking a day is all a person needs to reduce the risk of premature death associated with a sedentary lifestyle – this is the conclusion reached by the authors of a new study.

They found that the risk of early death associated with lack of physical exercise was almost independent of being overweight and obese.

The authors analyzed data from more than 334,000 men and women who took part in a large European study aimed at studying the relationship between cancer, diet and measures of many other factors such as exercise intensity and body mass index.


When examining the available data, the scientists found that the number of premature deaths due to obesity was twice that of those associated with insufficient physical activity.

And most importantly, they found that a relatively small increase in physical activity significantly lowered the risk of early death.

Lead author Professor Ulf Ekelund, a member of the Medical Research Council at the University of Cambridge, UK, and his colleagues published their study results in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Professor Eklund notes that the results of the study are encouraging: “Even light daily physical activity has a significant positive effect on people who hardly move.”

To evaluate the relationship between hypodynamia and the risk of premature death, and also the influence of obesity in this relationship, the scientists analyzed the data of 334,161 men and women from all over Europe who took part in the study European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition ( EPIC) for the period between 1992 and 2000.

The authors of the study were aware of the height, weight, and waist circumference data of the participants, as well as the results of their survey aimed at determining the degree of physical activity.

These data from the participants were obtained annually for a period of 12 years, during which 21,438 of them died.

Scientists found the greatest reduction in the risk of early death in the group of people who replaced hypodynamia with moderate physical activity.

A relationship between the risk of premature death and physical activity was observed regardless of the degree of overweight or obesity, as measured by both body mass index and waist circumference.

Among the study participants, 22.7% had hypodynamia / the work of these people was in a sitting position and they did not do any physical exercises./

The results of the study showed that daily physical exercise, which leads to the burning of about 90-110 kilocalories, which is equivalent to 20 minutes of brisk walking every day, is enough for a person to move from the group of “hypodynamic patients” to the group of those with “moderately reduced physical activity” and a corresponding reduction in the risk of premature death by 16-30%.

The study authors note that this effect was observed both in the group of normal-weight participants and in those who were overweight or obese.

However, Professor Eklund notes that 20 minutes of brisk walking a day is too little.

Physical activity is essential for maintaining health and prolonging human life, so it is necessary for each of us to try to increase it as far as circumstances and physical condition allow.

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