New research pinpointed an activity that is worst for your health than smoking, diabetes and heart disease. That activity? Inactivity.
According to researchers at the Cleveland Clinic, the biggest threat to your health may be a sedentary lifestyle.
“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,” said Dr. Wael Jaber, a cardiologist at the clinic and senior author of the study. “We’ve never seen something as pronounced as this and as objective as this.”
Research on Inactivity
For the study, researchers looked at previous studies of more than 120,000 patients who underwent exercise treadmill testing at Cleveland Clinic between 1991 and 2014. Individuals who performed the worst on the treadmill exercise were at the greatest risk of all-cause mortality, even moreso than individuals with diabetes, heart disease or smokers.
“We all know that a sedentary lifestyle or being unfit has some risk. But I’m surprised they overwhelm even the risk factors as strong as smoking, diabetes or even end-stage disease,” said Jaber.
For example, individuals who performed the worst on the treadmill test were almost twice as likely to experience kidney failure on dialysis. Another finding suggests that when compared to the top exercise performers, those with the most sedentary lifestyle had a 500 percent increased risk of death. A final finding revealed that a sedentary lifestyle left you at a higher risk for death than smoking.
“If you compare the risk of sitting versus the highest performing on the exercise test, the risk is about three times higher than smoking,” Jaber explained.
So while the risks are concerning, there is hope. You can easily combat a sedentary lifestyle by making a commitment to get off the couch and exercise more. Start with some small increases to your daily activity, and build on it from there. If you make slow, gradual changes, they are more likely to stick and become routine.
Activity is a prescription we can all take, and when we consider just how unhealthy inactivity is, it’s easy to see why it’s important in our daily life. So make a promise to yourself to prioritize activity going forward, and your whole body will thank you for it for years to come.