A new study by the researchers at Cambridge University has found that the lack of exercise can prove to be fatal twice as much as obesity. The researchers, however, found that a brisk walk for 20 minutes each day will greatly help in avoiding an early death.
The study showed that regular exercising was more crucial for an individual than body weight for longevity.
The researchers conducted a study involving over 334,000 people and following them for more than 12 years.
According to the Cambridge researchers, obesity claims lives of an estimated 337,000 of the 9.2 million deaths amongst the men and women from Europe each year, but twice this number of deaths is due to the lack of physical inactivity.
Even a small amount of exercise, like brisk 20 minute walk each day, can remarkably burn the calories by as much as 100 calories, and greatly influence the health by significantly reducing the risk of premature death.
Several previous researches have linked physical inactivity with heart disease and cancer.
Study lead author Professor Ulf Ekelund, from Cambridge’s Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit, said, “This is a simple message: just a small amount of physical activity each day could bring substantial health benefits for those who are physically inactive.”
It was found that physical activity helped in lowering the death risk from any cause by 7.35 percent over the study period. Comparatively, having a body mass index (BMI) under the obesity levels was estimated to reduce the mortality risk by only 3.66 percent.
The study participants having an average age of around 50 were recruited in the research work “European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (Epic)”, which was conducted across ten nations in Euro Zone, including the UK.
The researchers measured the participants’ weight, height and waist sizes and provided self-assessments of physical activity levels.
Only 22.7 percent were grouped under the inactive category as they were working in sedentary jobs with no engagement in any recreational exercise.
Including the most latest available public data, the researchers calculated that 337,000 of the 9.2 million deaths occurring in Europe in the year 2008 could be attributed to obesity.
But the study showed that the physical inactivity was believed to be attributed to almost double this number, i.e. 676,000 deaths.
The findings of the study were published online in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.