A recent study has shown that being physically active can decrease the chances of early death. The journal BMJ has published the results of this study. And it has observed that higher levels of physical activity have led to a reduction in the risk of early death in middle-aged and older people.
A sedentary lifestyle can deteriorate health and heighten the risk of early death
Physical activity (PA) provides many health benefits. It may include walking, running, cycling, dancing, or hiking. PA can not only lower body weight but can also prevent many chronic diseases. Chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, and CVDs are the major causes of death.
The results of the study have shown the link between a sedentary lifestyle and the risk of death. It has implied that being inactive, e.g. sitting still for 9.5 or more hours per day, can enhance the risk of death. This period doesn’t involve sleeping time.
The studies in the past have frequently suggested that inactivity is bad for health. While being physically active may decrease the chances of early death, leading to a healthy and long life.
For most adults, the suggestion is to do 150 min of moderate-intensity or 75 min of vigorous-intensity PA per week. In this study, the research team has assessed the data of many observational studies. These studies have analyzed the relation of PA and sedentary time with death (due to all causes).
These studies have used a wearable device to track the intensity and volume of PA during walking hours. This device can measure the activity in counts per minute (cpm). It can also separate the intensity of PA as light, moderate, and vigorous. And then estimate the time in these intensities.
Increasing the level of physical activity can improve health and reduce mortality
This study has included data of 36,382 adults from eight different studies. The average age of these adults was 62 years (at least 40 yrs.). The research team has tracked these adults for about 5.8 years. And has also classified these adults into four groups, from least to most active.
During the follow-up period, 5.9% (2149) adults died. After adjusting the influencing factors, the team found that any level of PA has an association with the decreased risk of death.
The number of deaths decreased largely with an increase in total activity up to 300 cpm. It is the average level of PA in a population-based sample of U.S. men. And it is 10-15% less than the levels observed in Scandinavian people.
A similar reduction in death occurred with an increase in the time of light PA (up to 5 hours per day) and moderate-intensity PA (24 min daily). While the maximum decrease in the risk of deaths (60-70%) was in the least active and the most active groups.
These results have proved that being physically active can decrease the chances of early death. Finding ways to enhance the level and time of PA can greatly reduce mortality and improve health. Conversely, being inactive for 9.5 or more hours per day can lead to an increase in the risk of death.
As all the studies have involved the adults in the U.S. and western Europe, aged at least 40 years, so the results may not apply to younger people and other populations. And still, the question remains about the effects of PA above a certain threshold.