Physical inactivity can be more harmful than obesity

The level of physical activity has consistently been associated with reducing the risk of mortality from all causes. Previous studies suggest that physical activity protects against premature death in people with normal body mass index, but does not eliminate the increased risk of death in people with increased mass index.

To deepen the knowledge about the association between physical activity, obesity and death by any cause a group of British scientists conducted a survey where data on physical activity, weight, height and waist circumference, were collected from 334 thousand adult individuals of both sexes. Survey respondents were accompanied by a period of 12 years and the analysis of the data was used to estimate the importance of physical activity as an independent factor to protect against premature death. In addition, the results allowed to estimate the gain in life expectancy produced by physical activity, even in obese people. The research was published in the journal American Journal of Clinical Nutrition on 14 January.


The study demonstrates, in General, that a physical activity, even though discreet, decreases the chances of premature death compared with sedentary lifestyle. The researchers estimate that the exercise of 90 to 110 calories spent per day could reduce the risk of premature death between 16 and 30%. This beneficial effect of moderate physical activity is more pronounced among people of normal weight, however, even in people with overweight and obesity was observed a benefit.

The fact that it is a prospective study, accompanied by a long period of time and with a large number of attendees makes the conclusions more robust. These conclusions, evaluates the number of deaths linked to a sedentary lifestyle can be two times greater than the deaths linked to obesity.
Regular physical activity, even in small quantities, is a decisive factor for the promotion of health and reducing the risk of premature death, even in people with overweight and obesity.
These evidence contribute to help those people who exhibit an eventual dismay produced by the difficulty of reducing the weight, decreasing the desire to perform physical activity.

Even without observing a result objective in the balance, physical activity will contribute to reduce the risk of premature death in these people.