Researchers say physical inactivity has become a global pandemic.
- Physical inactivity causes 1 in 10 deaths worldwide, series of studies in Lancet say
- Researchers suggest public health officials treat inactivity as a pandemic
- Inactivity often rises with age and is higher in women as well as in high-income countries
- Studies: Exercise events and better public transportation help improve physical activity
(CNN) — Physical inactivity causes 1 in 10 deaths worldwide, according to a series of studies released in British medical journal The Lancet, putting it on par with the dangers of smoking and obesity. The results also suggest that public health officials treat this situation as a pandemic.
Specifically, Harvard researchers say, inactivity caused an increase in deaths from coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, breast and colon cancers and caused more than 5.3 million deaths in 2008 worldwide.
If physical inactivity rates were to go down by even 10% to 20% worldwide, they say, it could save between a half-million and 1.3 million lives each year. This could also raise global life expectancy by almost a year.
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“This summer, we will admire the breathtaking feats of athletes competing in the 2012 Olympic Games,” wrote Dr. I-Min Lee, a Harvard researcher and the lead author of an article accompanying the series of studies. “Although only the smallest fraction of the population will attain these heights, the overwhelming majority of us are able to be physically active at very modest levels, which bring substantial health benefits.”
This series of five studies was specifically timed to be released just days before the start of the 2012 Olympics in London next week, and each of the studies focused on one specific issue related to physical inactivity and its effect on global health.