Sit Less, Move More to Improve Health
A new 45-year study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found that “low physical activity” has a negative health and longevity impact that is second only to a smoking habit.
About the Study
Seven-hundred and ninety-two men participated in the “Study of Men Born in 1913.” These men were considered a representative sample. The study aimed to investigate possible risk factors for heart disease and mortality.
In 1967, the 792 men, all age 54, participated in an exercise screening. Of the 792 men, 656 men “pushed themselves to their maximal effort.” The remaining men were excluded from the screening test because they had all developed various health conditions that made the exercise test unsafe.
The final participants’ oxygen capacity was tested during the exercise screening. Measuring VO2 max determined aerobic capacity or fitness level. It also correlated to their state of health. The men then had physical exams every decade and were followed by the researchers until 2012. Mortality cause data was obtained from the National Cause of Death Registry upon each man’s death.
The men were divided into three groups based on their VO2 max results. Data was correlated with health status and cause of death. The higher each man’s VO2 max (higher is better), the lower their risk of death over the five years of follow up (1967 – 2012). This study was unique in that it provided continual data over a long period of time.
The breadth of data gathered and evaluated from this large study showed that being physically active “over a lifetime” can greatly impact health. In particular, the researchers determined that lack of meaningful daily activity over the course of a lifetime is a significant risk factor for disease and premature mortality. This risk factor is second only to the impact of a smoking habit. The lead researcher suggests that with the public health sector’s success in reducing rates of smoking, we must now focus on reducing sedentary lifestyle and the habit of prolonged sitting.
Prolonged sitting is common among working adults, but also is prevalent and growing among children and teens. Other studies have confirmed the dangerous health implications of prolonged sitting. The HealthCorps curriculum aims to reduce teen obesity, with lessons and efforts that focus on diet and fitness. We need to get all ages to sit less and move more!
Happy Halloween!! Try to make today less about treats and more about tricks and other fun activities!!