Mend Physical Therapy Blog and Injury Information

Lack Of Exercise Shown To Be Greatest Risk Factor For Premature Death

October 20, 2018


Exercise remains one of the most powerful interventions to improve your mental, emotional, and physical health. Specifically, aerobic exercise, when performed consistent with medical experts prescriptions, has been shown to effectively treat 26 chronic conditions and diagnoses. Despite the clinically and cost effective benefits of aerobic exercise 80% of Americans to not reach the CDC’s recommendations of 2.5 hours of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise. This sedentary behavior not only contributes to our countries 40% obesity rate, but also put these Americans at risk for serious health conditions and premature death. A new study shows this sedentary behavior may be more dangerous than high blood pressure or diabetes.

A new article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association followed 122,000 participants over an 8 year period (Mandsager et al. 2018). At the beginning of the study, participants were given a symptom limited treadmill test to determine their cardiovascular fitness. They were then placed into percentiles based on their performance and then followed to determine their how their aerobic performance impacted their development of chronic disease and premature death.

As expected, the authors found participants levels of cardiovascular fitness were inversely associated with life expectancy. Thus, fitter patients had the lowest risk of death without any upper limits to this benefit. Authors reported the most sedentary participants. were had a 500% higher risk of death compared to the most fit peers. Participants who exercise inconsistently, not meeting CDC guidelines, were still at close to 400% greater risk of early death compared to those who do exercise regularly. Amazingly, sedentary behavior was found to have a worse prognosis than high blood pressure, smoking, or being a diabetic (type II).