“The benefits of being physically active over a lifetime are clear,” said lead author Dr. Per Ladenvall, a Swedish researcher at the University of Gothenburg. “Low physical capacity is a greater risk for death than high blood pressure or high cholesterol.”
The study followed 792 men who were 54-years-old in 1967 when the subjects did an exercise test in which they pushed themselves to the limit. The men were followed up until 2012. Physical examinations were performed once a decade and data about the men’s cause of death was collected from the National Cause of Death Registry, according to a press release.
Low aerobic capacity was linked to increased rates of death. The effect of aerobic capacity on risk of death was found to be second only to smoking.
Ladenvall concluded: “We have come a long way in reducing smoking. The next major challenge is to keep us physically active and also to reduce physical inactivity, such as prolonged sitting.”
Other studies have of course found that our sedentary ways harm our health. Lack of exercise contributes to obesity, hypertension, diabetes and depression. Yet 80 percent of American adults do not meet the government’s physical activity recommendations for aerobic and muscle strengthen, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Sedentary adults pay $1,500 more per year in healthcare costs than physically active adults, says the National Institutes of Health.
So now all we need is a nicotine patch for watching our screens.