About Careers Internship MedBlog Contact us
Physical Activity: 4 Million Deaths Averted Every Year

Physical Activity: 4 Million Deaths Averted Every Year

Font : A-A+

Highlights :
  • Physical activity is good for health and helps improve overall well-being of individuals
  • 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity throughout the week can lower the risk of early death

Poor levels of physical activity may up the risk of early death. However, being physically active can prevent about 4 million deaths every year worldwide, reveals a new study published in The Lancet Global Health by researchers at the Universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh.

The team behind the study argue that too often we focus on the negative health consequences of poor levels of physical activity when we could be celebrating the achievements of physical activity.


"Research into lifestyle factors such as lack of physical activity, poor diet, drinking alcohol, and smoking, tends to focus on the harms these do to health," said Dr Paul Kelly from the Physical Activity for Health Research Centre at the University of Edinburgh. "This helps create a narrative to try and prevent and reduce these behaviours.

"We also believe there is value in trying to understand the benefits that 'healthy behaviours' confer in order to argue for maintaining and increasing them. Can we look instead at population activity levels and estimate the health benefits of all this activity to society?"

In their study, Dr Tessa Strain from the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge and colleagues used a number known as the Prevented Fraction for the Population - in this case, the proportion of deaths that were prevented because people are physically active.

The team looked at previously published data for 168 countries, on the proportion of the population meeting World Health Organization global recommendation of at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity throughout the week, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity, or an equivalent combination.

The proportion of the population meeting the recommended amount of physical activity varied substantially between countries, from 33% for Kuwait, to 64% for the United Kingdom, to 94% for Mozambique.

By combining these data with estimates of the relative risk of dying early for active people compared to inactive people, the authors were able to estimate the proportion of premature deaths that were prevented because people are physically active.

They found that globally, due to physical activity the number of premature deaths was an average (median) of 15% lower than it would have been - 14% for women and 16% for men - equating to approximately 3.9 million lives saved per year.

Despite considerable variation in physical activity levels between countries, the positive contribution of physical activity was remarkably consistent across the globe, with a broad trend towards a greater proportion of premature deaths averted for low- and middle-income countries. In low income countries, an average of 18% of premature deaths were averted compared to 14% for high income countries.

In the USA, 140,200 early deaths were prevented annually and in the UK 26,600.

Health experts often frame the debate in terms of the number of early deaths due to lack of physical activity, estimating that 3.2 million die prematurely each year. But the researchers say that by showing how many deaths are averted, it might also be possible to frame the debate in a positive way and this could have benefits to advocacy, policy and population messaging. "We're used to looking at the downsides of not getting enough activity - whether that's sports or a gym or just a brisk walk at lunchtime - but by focusing on the number of lives saved, we can tell a good news story of what is already being achieved," said Dr Strain. "It tells us how much good is being done and helps us say 'look how much benefit physical activity is already providing - let's make things even better by increasing physical activity levels further'. "Although there's a risk of complacency - people asking why we need to invest more when it's already providing benefit - we hope our findings will encourage governments and local authorities to protect and maintain services in challenging economic climates."

Source: Eurekalert

Citations   close


News A-Z
What's New on Medindia
Top 10 Foods for Decreasing DHT Production and Preventing Hair Fall
Alarming Cesarean Section Trends in India - Convenience or Compulsion of Corporate Healthcare
Quiz on Low-Calorie Diet for Diabetes
View all
Recommended Reading
News Archive
News Category

Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

More News on:

Most Popular on Medindia

Calculate Ideal Weight for Infants Blood Pressure Calculator The Essence of Yoga Find a Doctor Drug - Food Interactions Indian Medical Journals Turmeric Powder - Health Benefits, Uses & Side Effects Find a Hospital Nutam (400mg) (Piracetam) Vent Forte (Theophylline)
This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use

Physical Activity: 4 Million Deaths Averted Every Year Personalised Printable Document (PDF)

Please complete this form and we'll send you a personalised information that is requested

You may use this for your own reference or forward it to your friends.

Please use the information prudently. If you are not a medical doctor please remember to consult your healthcare provider as this information is not a substitute for professional advice.

Name *

Email Address *

Country *

Areas of Interests