People who lead a sedentary lifestyle are twice as likely to suffer premature death, when compared to those who are physically active.
The finding comes from a large-scale population study by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NUST), which tracked more than 23,000 adults for more than two decades.
The study shows that those with sedentary lifestyles for the whole period saw their risk of early death rise by 99 per cent.
The sedentary group also had a 168 per cent higher chance of suffering a deadly heart attack or stroke, when compared to those who undertook at least two hours' exercise a week.
For the study, NUST invited all residents of Norway aged 20 and older to participate in 1984–1986, 1995–1997, and 2006–2008.
At all three time points, individuals were asked about their frequency and duration of leisure-time physical activity. The study then used the data from the first and third surveys.
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.
Compared to the reference group, people who were inactive in both 1984–1986 and 2006–2008 were twice as likely to suffer an "all-cause death" – and a 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, compared to the reference group.
Study author Dr Trine Moholdt of NUST said: “Our findings imply that 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.
“An important point to make here is that physical activity levels even below the advised levels will give health benefits."
The findings of the study were presented at the ESC Congress 2019.
To read more about the study and its findings, click here.
Resource: Health Club Management