Health study highlights the 'hidden killer' of inactivity
Sitting at your desk for an entire day as you plough through piles of work may gain the approval of your boss and colleagues.
But fresh motivation to spend more time on your feet may come from a new study which claims such inactivity is a “hidden killer”.
A report released by charity Sustrans and the South West Public Health Observatory said lack of physical activity could cause thousands of premature deaths every year in Devon and Cornwall.
The study ‘tool’ calculated to help local authorities estimate how much they could reduce death and illness by promoting physical activity, shows that inactive lifestyles could be killing an estimated 3,606 people annually in the South West.
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Sustrans chief executive Malcolm Shepherd said: “Until now, inactivity has been a hidden killer, with few people realising how dangerous an inactive lifestyle can be.
“Health experts agree that walking and cycling are the easiest ways for people to get the exercise they need, but too many people don’t feel safe.
“We can no longer ignore the problem – local authorities must take immediate action to improve the health of their communities by making walking and cycling the safest, easiest and most enjoyable ways to travel.”
A study published this month in medical journal Lancet identified physical inactivity as one of the top risk factors for death and disability in the UK, alongside smoking, hypertension, obesity and alcohol.
Professor Julia Verne, director of the South West Public Health Observatory, said:
“While we realise there are some people who cannot engage fully in physical activity, the tool is useful in highlighting the scale of the impact of physical activity on health. Small increases in activity, even for those who can’t be fully active, would still deliver big health benefits.
“Local authorities can use the tool to raise awareness about the importance of physical activity and to think of ways to get people active in their area.
“While improving sporting facilities is important, the key for most people is to build physical activity into their daily lives, rather than thinking of it as something extra to fit in to already-hectic lifestyles.”
Nationwide it was estimated physical inactivity could be responsible for 36,815 premature deaths among people aged 40-79.
The report claimed that if everyone in that age group did the recommended levels of physical activity each year, there would be 12,061 fewer emergency hospital admissions for coronary heart disease and 294,730 fewer people living with diabetes.
The Government currently recommends adults undertake two-and-a-half hours of moderate activity per week.