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Lack of Exercise More Deadly Than Obesity

While the media has been calling obesity is our nation’s biggest killer, it turns out being a couch potato is even more dangerous.

A new study from the University of Cambridge found that lack of exercise might be twice as deadly as obesity, according to a report that appeared recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

According to the study’s lead author, Ulf Ekelund, a scientist at Cambridge’s Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit. Just 20 minutes, of walking a day, reduced the risk of death by as much as 30 percent for those in all weight categories, including those who were classified as obese.

“We estimated that eradicating physical inactivity in the population would reduce the number of deaths twice as much as if obesity was eradicated,” Ekelund said.

The study followed 334,000 men and women over a 12-year period, and found that those who exercised enough to burn 90 to 110 calories a day had a lower risk of premature death. Researchers also looked at data regarding the deaths of 9.2 million people in Europe, and found that 337,000 of those deaths were related to obesity, while twice that number was connected to lack of exercise.

Exercise had such an impact on health and longevity, experts said, because it boosts the body’s immune system, improves mental function and energy, strengthens muscles and bones and reduces the risk of chronic diseases including some cancers and type 2 diabetes.

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