Strong evidence shows that physical inactivity increases the risk of many adverse health conditions, including major non-communicable diseases such as coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and breast and colon cancers, and shortens life expectancy.
Lack of exercise linked to cancer, diabetes and heart disease, which cause about 10% of deaths worldwide.
In four research papers published online July 18 in a special physical activity-themed series in The Lancet, a number of investigating teams peg the number of inactivity-related deaths at 5.3 million worldwide as recently as 2008.
One led by Dr I-Min Lee ScD quantified how much disease could be averted if inactive people were to become active and to estimate gain in life expectancy at the population level.
The following estimates were reported:
Worldwide, physical inactivity causes 6% (ranging from 3.2% SE Asia to 7.8% eastern Mediterranean region) of the burden of disease from coronary heart disease, 7% (3.9 to 9.6) of type 2 diabetes, 10% (5.6 to 14.1) of breast cancer and 10% (5.7 to 13.8) of colon cancer.
Inactivity causes 9% (range 5.1 to 12.5) of premature mortality, or more than 5.3 million of the 57 million deaths that occurred worldwide in 2008.
If inactivity were not eliminated, but decreased instead by 10% or 25%, more than 533,000 and more than 1.3 million deaths, respectively, could be averted every year.
The elimination of physical inactivity would increase the life expectancy of the world's population by 0.68 (range 0.41 to 0.95) years.
The above story is based on the July 17, 2012 news release by The Lancet.
The research paper has been published online July 18, 2012:
Lee IM, Shiroma EJ, Lobela F, et al. Effect of physical inactivity on major non-communicable diseases worldwide: An analysis of burden of disease and life expectancy. Lancet. 2012 Jul 21;380(9838):219-229
For more on physical activity recommendations, visit the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
See related article: "What you should know about exercising in your 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond"