Not exercising can harm you more than smoking, drinking: Study
Exercise helps you live longer – this is something everybody knows. But a new study published recently in the journal JAMA Network Open goes a step further, stating that a sedentary lifestyle is worse for your health than smoking, drinking, and even suffering from a heart disease. Dr Wael Jaber, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic and senior author of the study, called the results “extremely surprising.”
“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.
Stating that being unfit should be treated almost like a disease that should come with a prescription which should be exercise, Jaber said, “We’ve never seen something as pronounced as this and as objective as this”.
With a sample size of 122,007 people, researchers involved with the study studied these patients who underwent exercise treadmill testing at Cleveland Clinic between January 1, 1991 and December 31, 2014 to measure all-cause mortality relating to the benefits of exercise and fitness. Those with the lowest exercise rate accounted for 12 per cent of the participants.
Researchers found that there is an established link between a longer, healthier life and high levels of exercise. Jaber said the other big takeaway from the research can be that fitness leads to a longer life, with no limit to the benefit of aerobic exercise.
While, for a long time, some researchers have always been concerned that “ultra” exercisers might be at a higher risk of death, the study put that worry to rest and stated that was not the case. “There is no level of exercise or fitness that exposes you to risk,” Jaber said. “We can see from the study that the ultra-fit still have lower mortality.”
It was also seen in the findings of the study that women reaped more benefits of exercise than their male counterparts. The benefits of exercise were seen across all ages and in both men and women, “probably a little more pronounced in females,” Jaber said. “Whether you’re in your 40s or your 80s, you will benefit in the same way.”
“People who do not perform very well on a treadmill test have almost double the risk of people with kidney failure on dialysis.” Continued Jaber, “If you compare the risk of sitting versus the highest performing on the exercise test, the risk is about three times higher than smoking.”
Comparing people who lead a sedentary lifestyle to the top exercise performers, the researchers involved in the study found that the risk associated with death is 500 per cent higher in the case of people in the former category.