Lack of exercise responsible for twice as many early deaths as obesity
According to a University of Cambridge study released in January 2015, a brisk 20 minute walk each day could be enough to reduce an individual's risk of early death, according to new research.
The study of over 334,000 European men and women found that twice as many deaths may be attributable to lack of physical activity compared with the number of deaths attributable to obesity, but that just a modest increase in physical activity could have significant health benefits.
If you're not sure about becoming active or boosting your level of physical activity because you're afraid of getting hurt, the good news is that moderate-intensity aerobic activity, like brisk walking, is generally safe for most people. The Centers for Disease Control has some pointers:
Start slowly. Cardiac events, such as a heart attack, are rare during physical activity, but the risk does go up when you suddenly become much more active than usual.
If you have a chronic health condition such as arthritis, diabetes, or heart disease, talk with your doctor to find out if your condition limits your ability to be active then, work with your doctor to come up with a physical activity plan. If your condition stops you from meeting the minimum guidelines, do as much as you can.
The bottom line is - the health benefits of physical activity far outweigh the risks of getting hurt.
Here are the health benefits of physical activity:
Control your weight
Looking to get to or stay at a healthy weight? Both diet and physical activity play a critical role in controlling your weight.
You gain weight when the calories you burn, including those burned during physical activity, are less than the calories you eat or drink.
To maintain your weight: Work your way up to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.
The exact amount of physical activity needed to do this is not clear since it varies greatly from person to person. It's possible that you may need to do more than the equivalent of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week to maintain your weight.
To lose weight and keep it off: You will need a high amount of physical activity unless you also adjust your diet and reduce the amount of calories you're eating and drinking. Getting to and staying at a healthy weight requires both regular physical activity and a healthy eating plan.
Reduce your risk of
Heart disease and stroke are two of the leading causes of death in the United States. Following the Guidelines and getting at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity can put you at a lower risk for these diseases.
You can reduce your risk even further with more physical activity. Regular physical activity can also lower your blood pressure and improve your cholesterol levels.
Reduce your risk
of some cancers
Being physically active lowers your risk for two types of cancer: colon and breast, research shows.
Reduce your risk of endometrial and lung cancer. Although the research is not yet final, some findings suggest that your risk of endometrial cancer and lung cancer may be lower if you get regular physical activity compared to people who are not active.
Improve your quality of life. If you are a cancer survivor, research shows that getting regular physical activity not only helps give you a better quality of life, but also improves your physical fitness.
Reduce your risk of
Type 2 Diabetes and
Regular physical activity can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a condition in which you have some combination of too much fat around the waist, high blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol, high triglycerides, or high blood sugar.
Research shows that lower rates of these conditions are seen with 120 to 150 minutes (2 hours to 2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of at least moderate-intensity aerobic activity. And the more physical activity you do, the lower your risk will be.
Already have type 2 diabetes? Regular physical activity can help control your blood glucose levels. To find out more, visit Diabetes and Me at the CDC.
bones and muscles
As you age, it's important to protect your bones, joints and muscles. Keeping bones, joints and muscles healthy can help ensure that you're able to do your daily activities and be physically active.
Research shows that doing aerobic, muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening physical activity of at least a moderately-intense level can slow the loss of bone density that comes with age.
Moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week have a lower risk of hip fracture.
Regular physical activity also helps with arthritis and other conditions affecting the joints
Improve Your Mental Health and Mood
Regular physical activity can help keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp as you age. It can also reduce your risk of depression and may help you sleep better.
Research has shows that doing aerobic or a mix of aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities 3 to 5 times a week for 30 to 60 minutes can give you these mental health benefits.