A 20-Minute Walk a Day Could Save Your Life, Study on Inactivity and Mortality Finds

A bad diet isn’t the only way to an early grave. A recent study finds inactivity may be even more damaging than being overweight or obese.

The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, was conducted by University of Cambridge researchers, who found that as many as 676,000 deaths per year in Europe come from inactivity, versus solely weight-related deaths that are about half that number.

The researchers looked at 334,161 Europeans over the course of 12 years, monitoring activity levels and the subjects’ waistlines, noting an increased risk of cardiovascular disease among the most inactive. Diabetes was also rampant, particularly among those who were both obese and inactive.

"The greatest risk [of an early death] was in those classed inactive, and that was consistent in normal weight, overweight and obese people," one of the researchers, Prof Ulf Ekelund told BBC News.

According to Ekelund, decreasing the number of inactive people in Europe by just 7.5 percent would prevent the 676,000 deaths noted earlier.

He recommends simple steps anyone can take to increase their activity levels. "Twenty minutes of physical activity, equivalent to a brisk walk, should be possible for most people to include on their way to or from work, or on lunch breaks, or in the evening instead of watching TV," he told the BBC.

Prof Ekelund noted that reducing obesity is also a very important step in decreasing these mortality rates, but, he said “I do think physical activity needs to be recognised as a very important public health strategy."

Sitting at your desk reading this article? Stand up and stretch a bit, run in place, do some jumping jacks, or pop this article open on a mobile device and read it while walking (just make sure to watch where you’re going). It could save your life. At the very least, it will make it healthier.

Image: H o l l y

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