We've heard all the headlines about how obesity is the latest health epidemic. It's leading to diabetes, heart disease and more, but what if another factor—one that's less visible—is actually more important?
A new study from the University of Cambridge found that twice as many deaths in Europe are due to inactivity than are due to excess weight. The study, which followed 334,161 subjects for 12 years, estimated in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that 676,000 deaths in Europe could be prevented through exercise, while 337,000 deaths could be prevented by eliminating obesity.
Though obesity and inactivity often go hand in hand, not everyone who is sedentary is carrying around extra weight. Many people may fall well within the normal range of the body mass index even though they don't exercise. And that's where part of the problem lies.
Their appearance might suggest to them, their doctors and the world that everything is fine, but their sedentary behaviour is secretly wreaking havoc on their health. According to researchers, just 20 minutes of brisk walking a day could have a significant impact on preventing death—no matter the weight of the individual. It's easy to see why exercise has such a huge impact.
While you might typically think of fitness in terms of how it impacts your waistline, getting active also increases your good cholesterol, reduces stress, improves sleep, prevents cognitive decline, lifts your mood and more. All of these side-effects compound to reduce your risk of all kinds of diseases. So even if your weight is on track, get moving! To help you get started, get our tips for incorporating exercise into your busy life.