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Which is Worse: Too Much Fat, or Too Little Exercise?

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lack of exercise Did you know that a lack of physical activity is linked to an increased risk of early death? In particular, it’s associated with a greater risk of heart disease, cancer and other age-related ailments.

With this in mind, it might not surprise you to learn the results of a new European study. The researchers found that a lack of exercise causes about twice as many premature deaths as obesity.

Here’s how the study worked:

Researchers collected and analyzed data from 334,161 men and women across Europe. This included height, weight, body mass index and waist circumference. Additionally, surveys were used to measure their levels of physical activity. Just under a quarter of the participants were counted as inactive. These are people who had no recreational activity. They also had sedentary jobs.

The study included over 12 years of follow up. During that time, the biggest difference in risk of premature death occurred between the inactive and moderately inactive groups. Those in the inactive group were more likely to die early.

However, the authors estimate that just a 20 minute brisk walk each day can help. It could reduce the risk of premature death by 16 to 30 percent. The impact was greatest in normal weight individuals, but even those with higher BMI saw a benefit.

Professor Ulf Ekelund, who led the study, says: “This is a simple message: just a small amount of physical activity each day could have substantial health benefits for people who are physically inactive. Although we found that just 20 minutes would make a difference, we should really be looking to do more than this—physical activity has many proven health benefits and should be an important part of our daily life.”

SOURCE: Lack of exercise responsible for twice as many deaths as obesity. News Release. Cambridge University. Jan 2015.

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