Not Exercising More Deadly Than Smoking, Diabetes & Heart Disease, Study Finds

In Family, Individual, Industry News by Stephen Ellis

The benefits of leading an active lifestyle are well documented. In fact, we recently wrote about how sit-stand desks not only improve the physical health of office workers, but also boost their productivity, engagement and energy levels too.

The bottom line is that regular exercise has always been associated with a longer life. But now a new study has revealed just how bad living a sedentary lifestyle is.

According to the study by the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, not exercising is just as bad for your health as smoking, diabetes and cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease – and in some cases, not exercising is even worse.

Speaking about the findings of the study, Dr. Wael Jaber, M.D., a Cleveland Clinic cardiologist and senior author of the study, said what he and his team found is “extremely surprising”.

Being unfit on a treadmill or in an exercise stress test has a worse prognosis, as far as death, than being hypertensive, being diabetic or being a current smoker. We’ve never seen something as pronounced as this and as objective as this,” he said.

For the study, researchers analysed data relating to more than 122,000 patients who underwent exercise treadmill testing at Cleveland Clinic between 1991 and 2014.

No Limit To Benefits Of Aerobic Exercise

The results of the analysis revealed that not only was exercising linked to a reduced risk of death, but also the more exercise an individual did, the greater the benefit. In fact, the study found there was no limit to the benefit of aerobic exercise, with the highest levels associated with the greatest survival benefits – this was especially true in older patients aged 70 and over.

This particular finding is interesting as it goes some way to address the concerns many researchers have regarding the potential negative impact of “ultra” exercising.

Dr. Jordan Metzl, a sports medicine physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, who was not involved in the study, said no level of exercise exposes a person to risk. “We can see from the study that the ultra-fit still have lower mortality,” he said.

The biggest takeaway for individuals who lead sedentary lifestyles should be that they are putting themselves at greater risk of mortality than they would if they smoked, had diabetes or even end-stage disease.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of the study is that the researchers did not rely on participants telling them how much exercise they did. Instead, they were tested, allowing the researchers to accurately measure.

Staggeringly, when the lowest exercisers were compared to the top performers, the risk of mortality was 500% higher.

Current NHS physical activity guidelines recommend that adults aged 19 to 64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity (such as cycling, or brisk walking) every week and strength exercises that work all the major muscles 2 or more days a week.

Are you getting enough exercise each week? If you’re not, you could be putting yourself at an increased risk of premature death – even if you don’t smoke.

Stephen joined Premier Choice in 2006 as a Group Risk consultant and became Head of Group Risk in June 2013. In December 2017, Stephen also took over responsibility for the Protection division within Premier Choice and works to grow this in the same way he has the Group Risk division. Protection is a specialist area and fits well with his experience and expertise in the group risk market.