This Common Mistake is Worse For Your Health Than Smoking Cigarettes
Smoking cigarettes might be obviously horrible for your health, but there is one common negative lifestyle habit you might unknowingly be guilty of that is much worse for you than smoking cigarettes. That habit? Not exercising.
Surprised? You shouldn’t be too surprised. There is a huge body of research out there showing the numerous positive benefits of being physically active. It is just a given that fitter people live longer and have a much higher quality of life.
However, until recently, not much research has been done on the effects of physical inactivity. The research that is out there was done on older volunteers to begin with, which greatly affected the results of the studies, and most of the available studies only span a couple of decades at the most, which is usually not long enough to draw any casual evidence about human lifespans.
Then a physical education columnist for The New York Times, Gretchen Reynolds, wrote an article on the topic. According to Reynolds research, physical stagnation is second only to smoking cigarettes when it comes to increasing risk of early early death.
In her article, Reynolds pulled up a study that was done in 1963, because they had recently done a follow-up to the study after 45 years. The results were published in the Journal for Preventive Cardiology in Europe. The study was done on almost 1,000 healthy 50 yr old men who had been born in the same year – 1913, and the agreement was that these men would be studied for the rest of their lives in order to help scientists understand the risk of disease over a lifetime, particularly heart disease. The volunteers’ cigarette use was also noted.
At the end of the study, it showed that cigarettes had the most effect on the lifespan of the subjects. However, in a surprising turn of events, the very close second contender for short lifespan was no aerobic activity. In fact, the participants who had the lowest levels of maximum aerobic capacity had a 21% higher chance of dying and a 42% chance of dying prematurely, than those who had moderate levels of aerobic capacity.
In fact, according to Reynold’s article, those with low fitness levels were more unhealthy than those with say, high cholesterol levels or high blood pressure. Subjects who had high blood pressure or high cholesterol who were also fit tended to live longer than others who did not suffer these things but also did not work out.
So, if you think that you’re very healthy because you’re not a smoker, yet you hardly ever exercise, you may want to rethink that. Nobody is saying you need to start running marathons, but just a simple daily brisk walk or jog could totally lengthen your life.