Is Inactivity Killing More Than Obesity?

It is common knowledge that obesity and inactivity usually go hand in hand. With the lack of activity and frequent indulgence in the wrong foods (read: junk, pasta, etc.), it is easy to become obese and lazy. But when it comes to breaking down to which causes more damage to your health and consequently even life, the opinions are somewhat conflicted. Luckily, we are not dealing with opinions here and this article will be based on relevant research.

A research that was being conducted at Cambridge University for 12 years and included more than 300,000 people showed that inactivity is even more dangerous than obesity. The results obtained in 2008 indicate that the number of deaths of completely inactive people was almost double than the number of deaths of obese people. This led researchers to the conclusion that, if they introduced at least 20 minutes of walking per day, people of any size and weight would reduce their health risks significantly. Now, if a person is obese, starting to exercise at least three times a week could really improve their chances of getting better and healthier. The mentioned research found that by avoiding obesity people reduce their risk of early death by 4%, while by starting to lead a more active life the risk is lowered by 7%.

These results were not obtained only by researchers at Cambridge University. A number of European academic centers, along with Oxford and London, did research on the same subject. All this was funded by the European Union, the Department of Health, Cancer Research UK, Food Standards Agency, and other important government institutions, which shows how serious this issue really is.

Researchers gathered data from each country’s official records, regarding the death of the research participants, no matter the cause of death, looking at the period between 2008 and 2010. From the total of 116,980 men, there were 11,086 deaths, and from the total of 217,181 women, there were 10,352 deaths. The results of the research showed that those who were moderately inactive were at 16-30% less of a risk of dying than those who were completely inactive.

One of the researchers in this study, Professor Ulf Ekelund, spoke with a BBC reporter and stated that regardless of the weight people have, those that are completely inactive are the ones at the greatest risk of premature death. Then he stated a shocking fact, which was confirmed through this 12-year old research – if inactivity stopped being an issue, mortality rates would decrease by around 7.5 percent, which translates to 676,000 people who would probably be still alive today if they just moved a little every day. On the other hand, the percentage of deaths would decrease by 3.6% if obesity was eliminated. Though a smaller number than the percentage of deaths by inactivity, this is not a small factor and obesity still presents a serious health and life threat.

You could die from both things. The question is – what will kill you faster? What will make you sicker? If you are obese, your movement becomes more difficult and tiresome, which means you are on the road of becoming completely inactive. And as you become less active, your health deteriorates and the risk of premature death increases. The research in question showed than an inactive person, no matter the weight, is at greater risk of dying before time than an obese person who is at least a little active.  On the other hand, by becoming more active, you will also reduce the chances of becoming more obese, as you will burn calories, improve the health of your heart and other organs, and you will generally feel better in your own body.

The facts state that inactivity is killing you more than obesity. But that doesn’t mean that obesity isn’t damaging your body or having a negative impact on your health. If you want to live a longer life, you should give up the bad nutritional habits and go for healthier choices. Definitely include some physical activity into your daily routine. That doesn’t mean you need to sign up for a gym membership or follow a specific program, a simple 20 minute to half an hour brisk walk on a daily basis will be more than enough, at least for the beginning. Physical activity can save your life, and it is not as hard as it may seem – so why wait or delay the starting point? Start now. Call your friends and go for a walk. Take your dog out. Stop using your car so much. Take the stairs. There are so many ways to be active – find the one that you like the most and begin your journey to better health one step at a time.