18 Jul 2012

Lack of exercise as bad as smoking, obesity - study

10:56 pm on 18 July 2012

New medical research says lack of exercise is killing as many people around the world as smoking or obesity.

The research involved 33 researchers across the world and is published in The Lancet medical journal to coincide with the build up to the Olympics.

It estimates that about a third of adults are not doing enough physical activity, causing 5.3 million deaths a year that could be prevented if people managed at least two and a half hours of moderate activity a week - such as walking, cycling or gardening.

The BBC reports the mortality rate equates to about one in 10 deaths from diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and breast and colon cancer would fall by between 6% and 10%.

Researchers say the problem is now so bad it should be treated as a pandemic.

They say tackling it requires a new way of thinking, suggesting the public need to be warned about the dangers of inactivity rather than just reminded of the benefits of being active.

The researchers also say governments need to look at ways to make physical activity more convenient, affordable and safer.

It is recommended that adults do 150 minutes of moderate exercise such as brisk walking, cycling or gardening each week, the BBC reports.

The study found people in higher income countries were the least active with those in the United Kingdom among the worst, as nearly two-thirds of adults were judged not to be doing enough.