Lack of exercise most significant cause of early death, study finds
Most diabetics must be careful to maintain a healthy weight, but regular exercise is just as important for avoiding early death, a European study suggests.
Over 334,000 men and women participated in the research, which was recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Exercise. The subjects were tracked for over 12 years and were monitored for weight, waist circumference, physical activity habits and other health factors.
Interestingly, the greatest reduction in premature death risk was found when researchers compared active vs. inactive individuals - not when they assessed the participants' actual weight.
The findings suggest that even overweight individuals, if they make a conscious effort to be active, may live longer than thinner people who are sedentary.
Just 20 minutes a day
The authors estimated that just 20 minutes of exercise per day - something equivalent to a brisk walk - can reduce risk for premature death by 16-30 percent.
And after looking at data on deaths in Europe, the researchers found that more deaths can be attributed to physical inactivity than to obesity.
"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," said study leader Professor Ulf Ekelund, from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge. "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: University of Cambridge