Washington: Researchers have found that a sedentary lifestyle for two decades is linked to two times increases in the risk of premature death as compared to those who lead a healthy life.
The study was presented at ESC Congress 2019.
“To get the maximum health benefits of physical activity in terms of protection against premature all-cause and cardiovascular death, you need to continue being physically active. You can also reduce your risk by taking up physical activity later in life, even if you have not been active before,” said study author Dr Trine Moholdt of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway.
The aim of this study was to assess how changes in physical activity over 22 years were related to subsequent death from all causes and from cardiovascular disease.
A total of 23,146 men and women were included in the analysis. Physical activity was categorised as inactive, moderate, less than two hours a week, and high (two or more hours per week).
Participants were divided into groups according to their activity levels at each survey.
Physical activity data were linked to information on deaths until the end of 2013 using the Norwegian Cause of Death Registry.
The risk of death in each physical activity group was compared to the reference group (those who reported a high level of exercise during both surveys).
The analyses were adjusted for factors known to influence prognoses such as body mass index, age, sex, smoking, education level, and blood pressure.
People who were inactive in both 1984-1986 and 2006-2008 had a 2-fold higher likelihood of all-cause death and 2.7-fold greater risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
Those with moderate activity at both time points had 60 per cent and 90 per cent raised risks of all-cause and cardiovascular deaths, respectively, as compared to the reference group.
“An important point to make here is that physical activity levels even below the advised levels will give health benefits. Physical fitness is more important than the amount of exercise,” added Dr Moholdt.
“Do activities you like and get more movement into your everyday life,” she advised.
As for those who changed categories between surveys, people who went from inactive to highly active had a mortality risk that was between those who were continually active or continually sedentary.
In contrast, those who went from highly active to inactive had a similar risk of dying as those who were inactive at both surveys.
“My advice is to establish good exercise habits as early in life as possible. The health benefits extend beyond protection against premature death to effects in the body’s organs and on cognitive function. Physical activity helps us live longer and better lives,” she further said.