Smoking is undeniably bad for your health, and its effects have been widely documented over many years. But did you know there’s something else that is just as bad? It might be surprising, but a recent study has shown that what happens if you don’t exercise is just as detrimental to your health.
This study, published in JAMA Network by Cleaveland Clinic, followed 122,000 patients over the course of 8 years to observe the effects of a lack of exercise on the body. To gauge their level of fitness, the participants were asked to run on a treadmill. During the study, factors such as age, sex, height, weight, body mass index, medications, whether they smoked and medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia were considered.
Unsurprisingly, what they found was that those who exercised more tended to live longer. But, what they also found was that those who lacked exercise had the same amount of risk, if not more, of dying as those who smoked, had diabetes, had high blood pressure or high cholesterol. The study also noted that exercise was especially beneficial for those who suffered from hypertension.
Not only that, but the results of the finding also showed that exercising did not just reduce the risk of death, but exercising more yields even greater benefits. In older participants aged 70 and above, those who were the fittest (top 2.5 per cent of fitness for their age group) had a 30 per cent less likely to be at risk of dying.
According to a report in CBS News, Dr. Wael Jaber, M.D., a Cleveland Clinic cardiologist and senior author of the study, says that the finding is surprising, “since the focus has always been on addressing these risks to improve mortality. But we found that the biggest risk is just under our nose: being physically less fit,” he told CBS News.
“We thought that we would see a signal for benefit in some groups or subsets of patients,” Jaber said. “What we got is an across the board benefit with every age group, both sexes, and in individuals with and without.”
“Its size, its outcomes, and its future impact on preventable heart disease is enormous,” Dr. Satjit Bhusri, a cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City told CBS News. “We are made and meant to walk, run, exercise, get moving. By doing so we regenerate new fresh new cells, cleanse out toxins, and rebuild broken parts.”
Dr. Wael Jaber wants to treat a lifestyle as an illness, by “encouraging activity through health insurance incentives, city and urban planning as well as providing specific exercise prescription for our patients rather than the generic,” he said. “It seems the 10K steps is the basic minimum but more is almost always better.”
“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,” Jaber told CNN in a report. “We’ve never seen something as pronounced as this and as objective as this.”
The study says it best: “cardiorespiratory fitness is a modifiable indicator of long-term mortality” – so if you want to live longer, don’t neglect your physical health. Get out there and do anything, go jogging, play football or even just take walk 10,000 steps a day. Ageing gracefully and healthily is something that is within your control, if you start now. Your body will thank you when you are older.
By Muhd Farhan