Inactivity 'killing as many as smoking'

 

Report co-author Dr I-Min Lee: "Being inactive increases your risk of developing chronic diseases"

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A lack of exercise is now causing as many deaths as smoking across the world, a study suggests.

The report, published in the Lancet to coincide with the build-up to the Olympics, estimates that about a third of adults are not doing enough physical activity, causing 5.3m deaths a year.

That equates to about one in 10 deaths from diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and breast and colon cancer.

Researchers said the problem was now so bad it should be treated as a pandemic.

And they said tackling it required a new way of thinking, suggesting the public needed to be warned about the dangers of inactivity rather than just reminded of the benefits of being active.

Exercise can...

Source: BBC health

The team of 33 researchers drawn from centres across the world also said governments needed to look at ways to make physical activity more convenient, affordable and safer.

It is recommended that adults do 150 minutes of moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, cycling or gardening, each week.

The Lancet study found people in higher income countries were the least active with those in the UK among the worst, as nearly two-thirds of adults were judged not to be doing enough.

Case study

Bogota

From Monday to Saturday, the streets of the Colombian capital of Bogota are packed with cars.

The city - one of the largest in South America - is a teeming metropolis, home to more than seven million people.

But on a Sunday vehicles are nowhere to be seen. Instead, the streets are taken over by pedestrians and cyclists, thanks to Ciclovia, a traffic-free streets initiative run by the city authorities.

The scheme, backed by successive mayors, has been running in one guise or another since the mid-1970s.

It now covers nearly 100km of roads in the centre of the city on Sundays and public holidays.

But as well as making Bogota a quieter place to roam, the ban on cars also has a health benefit.

Research has shown about a million residents regularly walk around on a Sunday, a fifth of whom say they would be inactive if it were not for the ban on vehicles.

Dr Michael Pratt, who was involved in the Lancet research on physical inactivity, said the Bogota scheme was a "wonderful example" of how governments could be encouraging more exercise.

The researchers admitted comparisons between countries were difficult because the way activity was estimated may have differed from place to place.

Nonetheless, they said they remained confident that their overall conclusion was valid.

Pedro Hallal, one of the lead researchers, said: "With the upcoming 2012 Olympic Games, sport and physical activity will attract tremendous worldwide attention.

"Although the world will be watching elite athletes from many countries compete in sporting events... most spectators will be quite inactive.

"The global challenge is clear - make physical activity a public health priority throughout the world to improve health and reduce the burden of disease."

Prof Lindsey Davies, president of the UK Faculty of Public Health, agreed.

"We need to do all we can to make it easy for people to look after their health and get active as part of their daily lives," she said.

"Our environment has a significant part to play. For example, people who feel unsafe in their local park will be less likely to use it."

But others questioned equating smoking with inactivity.

While smoking and inactivity kill a similar number of people, smoking rates are much lower than the number of inactive people, making smoking more risky to the individual.

Dr Claire Knight, of Cancer Research UK, said: "When it comes to preventing cancer, stopping smoking is by far the most important thing you can do."

 

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  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 571.

    Ok being sat on yr backside all day isn't doing you any favours, but imo, happiness with what you choose to do or not do is far more important.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 570.

    Prof Lindsey Davies, president of the UK Faculty of Public Health - "We need to do all we can to make it easy for people to look after their health and get active as part of their daily lives,"

    Why? So they can live very long lives (NHS costs as bodies wear out, state pensions, care home costs), to end their days in misery with dementia?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 569.

    449.commonsense123

    "Cheap booze in supermarkets and smoking ban, has made people stay at home drinking in access to what they drank in a pub, smoking more aswell,No walking to the pub, communication, arranging events meet ups etc. . ."

    I am living proof that your statement is true, though I use the word "living" rather loosely!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 568.

    Are there really still people out there who believe that eating healthily is more expensive than eating junk/processed food?

    Healthier food (that you might just have to put a little effort in to preparing) is far cheaper, whether you're comparing full meals or snacks.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 567.

    All things in moderation and be active. Simple.

    Now leave me alone to sit here at my computer...

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 566.

    Even if you lead the 'perfect healthy lifestyle' you will die. Who knows, maybe from heart disease, cancer or anyone of the above. We can't stop it, so live the life you want to live, so long as you are happy without causing pain or unhappiness to others.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 565.

    When's the Ministry of the Bl**ding Obvious going to report, at great tax payers' expense, that having a positive outlook and things to look forward to also adds years to a life.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 564.

    Its quite telling how most of the comments are about people being obese or overweight - quite a few so-called lazy people arent fat. Not only that; sitting and reading is far more productive than running about.
    And you cant use the NHS as a stick to beat with - we ALL pay for it. If you sustain an injury from sports, should you be castigated for self infliction and "putting strain" on the NHS?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 563.

    why does everyone get upset when perfectly sensible advice is put forward. its not rocket science to know being a couch potato is unhealthy. no-one says you cant be one but just be aware of the risks. not all couch potatoes will die young and some keep fanatics will - but the general position is that fitter, slimmer active people will be more healthy than fat inactive ones - seems fair enough!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 562.

    Once again the media, commentators & those with a message to push fundamentally misunderstand the nature of the statistics provided. You might just as well say that venetian blinds are as dangerous as polar bears, as they kill the same amount of people each year. That said, exercise is great - get's your heart beating & your mind working. Walk in the country, cycling up a hill-side or even the gym

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 561.

    @539.thegunslinger26, no it isnt expensive, and If you think walking on the streets is boring wait till you hit a treadmill.

    Also Private Gyms are expensive, but there are plenty of Public Leisure centres about that are a fraction of the cost. you only need to do 30 minutes a day brisk walking (thats about 2-3 miles)

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 560.

    519Simple Simon
    500.Black_And_Proud
    I'd be happier dying even earlier, most of the way through an awesome steak, watching a decent film while drinking some good whisky. Why on earth would anyone want to exist to, or beyond, 85?
    =
    Ask an 84 year old.
    =
    OK but only if the are compus mentis and not suffering from a plethora of age related illness.

    Personally I go for quality over quantity.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 559.

    While this finding is a good awareness to keep body organs active that use more oxygen when not inactive, the constitution of body also counts much for people who live long life as they live in style carelessly.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 558.

    539 - TheGunSlinger - that is a typical excuse. Going for a run or cycle around your streets is free. You dont need an expensive gym membership. The main problem in our society is peoples total lack of motivation. For many, getting off the sofa to find the remote is too much effort. Exercise is not easy, it is punishing and requires effort. Too many people just cant be bothered.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 557.

    come on bbc, is this the nanny state talking?? im lucky, i have an active job but millions dont. all these people working 10 hours a day to put food on the table and now you telling them if they dont become more active they are going to die sooner! im sure reading this is causing them even more stress and shortning there lives even futher. people are not stupid!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 556.

    Seems easy enough to do moderate exercise in London anyway - c12 minutes walking from home to the station and 14 minutes from the station to the office each day going to work and the same coming back rather than say taking a bus to the station. Add maybe 20 or 30 minutes out at lunchtime that totals about 1 hour 20 minutes daily.
    As for squash etc a run at the week end is a free substitute

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 555.

    How about the Government set up a scheme whereby one can claim a mileage allowance from one's employer for walking like one can for driving and claiming travel expenses.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 554.

    545.Peter_Sym
    519. Simple Simon
    Why on earth would anyone want to exist to, or beyond, 85?
    --
    Hugh Heffner looks pretty content......
    ==
    Well played, sir. (obvious circumstances notwithstanding)

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 553.

    There is a lot of whining here about - either people can't exercise and are blaming the government for their laziness or they are complaining that they live in a nanny state and are being ordered about - ridiculous! We need to be active if we are to stay in good health and we need to have the information to know what the consequences will be if we don't. Its time to stop moaning and get moving!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 552.

    519Simple Simon

    500.Black_And_Proud
    I'd be happier dying even earlier, most of the way through an awesome steak, watching a decent film while drinking some good whisky. Why on earth would anyone want to exist to, or beyond, 85?
    =
    Ask an 84 year old.

 

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