If you had to name the number one unhealthy habit, how would you reply? Most people might say smoking, or eating too much junk food. And while you would be correct that these are terribly damaging habits, you might also be surprised at the results of a new study. One unhealthy habit was actually found to be even worse than smoking… And many people wouldn’t guess this one.
It’s actually not a habit, but the abstinence from a habit… Researchers found that not exercising regularly actually carries a more negative impact, over time, than smoking cigarettes daily!
The study involved nearly two decades of data from a cardiologist, Dr Kyle Mandsager, at the Cleveland clinic. After tracking stress data from over 122,000 patients over this time period, Dr Mandsager reached a startling conclusion: Patients with low activity levels faced a death risk equal or greater to those who regularly smoked.
Dr Mandsager explained the results of his study, which he says are actually not that surprising: “Exercise has an incredibly positive impact on our health … It lowers blood pressure, improves cholesterol profiles, improves glucose metabolism and helps maintain a healthy weight [leading] to reductions in our risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, even cancer. What we have come to recognize is that the converse — being sedentary — has a profoundly negative impact on our health, likely involving the same complex pathways.”
The American Heart Association concurs: Both smoking and a lack of exercise lead to a hardening of the arteries, along with other health problems.
Here’s another surprising piece of information: While only about 15 percent of American adults smoke regularly, only about 20 percent of adults meet recommended guidelines for regular aerobic exercise and strength training. That means 80 percent of us aren’t exercising enough, and are putting ourselves at serious risk of chronic illness, carrying excess weight, and even early death.
So, how much exercise is recommended? The American Heart Association says you should aim for 150 minutes per week of moderate activity, or 75 minutes of intense exercise. However, it’s always better to do what you can, than to do nothing at all. Get moving, choose an activity you enjoy, and gradually increase your exercise sessions over time.
And of course, give us a call if you have questions about weight loss or preventing chronic disease. We can also assess your health before you begin an exercise program, identify underlying conditions, help you identify the types of exercise that are safe for you.