If you think smoking is bad for your health, you should consider being a couch potato just as dangerous.
A new study published in the journal Lancet found that one-third of adults aren’t getting enough exercise, and that inactivity is now causing just as many deaths per year as smoking – approximately 5.3 million worldwide. It also estimated that one in 10 deaths caused by heart disease, diabetes, and breast and bowel cancer are the result of inactivity.
Co-author of the study, Dr. I-Min Lee, reported that being inactive can increase your risk of many serious diseases, including diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. “If you are physically inactive, your risk of premature mortality is probably comparable to that of smoking,” she told BBC News in a recent interview.
“I’m not saying this to say you should not worry about smoking and just be physically active. I’m saying this just to show perspective that all of these risk factors are bad. We should look at inactivity as equally important to not smoking…so, it’s not to say choose one or not the other; try to eliminate all of these risk factors.”
Ming stressed that physical activity is crucial because it benefits almost every physiological system in the body. “By moving,” she said, “we improve our health. Everything that gets worse when you get older, gets better by being more active.” She proposed that by simply walking briskly for 15-30 minutes a day, we can significantly improve our health.
Exercise is considered a powerful medicine in itself, capable of preventing major diseases and providing such benefits as improved heart, cardiovascular and bone health. It’s recommended that adults get 2.5 hours of moderate activity every week, which equates to about 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. Activities could include anything from cycling to running or even brisk walking.
Lead researcher Pedro Halal believes this study was released at critical time with the 2012 Olympics just around the corner. “With the upcoming 2012 Olympic Games, sport and physical activity will attract tremendous worldwide attention,” he said. “Although the world will be watching elite athletes from many countries compete in sporting events, most spectators will be quite inactive.”
The general message they’re hoping to send spectators? Although we can’t all be champions or athletes, we can improve our health and extend our lives just by being more active.
Researchers also proposed that governments take more responsibility in this issue, saying they should work to find more ways to make being physically active more convenient, affordable and safe.
The bottom line? Take charge of your health and be more active. And while you’re at it, don’t smoke. Doing so will benefit your health immensely.
source: BBC News