Could A Sedentary Lifestyle Be Just As Harmful As Smoking Cigarettes?

by Danny Fernsby

Smoking has always been deemed a harmful activity that causes blood vessels to clog and increases the risk of numerous health conditions. This activity has also been linked to premature deaths and has been associated with the worldwide public health epidemic.

A recent study, however, found that smoking is not the only culprit in causing people to die at a premature age. The study included many different medical experts and was able to provide evidence that a lack of physical activity, also referred to as a sedentary lifestyle, could have the same negative impact on a person’s life than smoking does.

The Importance of Physical Activities

Physical activities can include anything from walking to doing weights. Since every person’s body is different in shape and size, what works for one person may not be as adequate for another. The key is to gain at least some level of physical activity on a daily basis. The Better Health Channel reports that the human body requires at least 30 minutes of physical activity in the form of exercise on a daily basis.

Could A Sedentary Lifestyle Be Just As Harmful As Smoking Cigarettes?They continue to report that, even though many of us have busy schedules, we can often find a way to make everyday activities part of our daily physical activity routine. Being physically active yields many benefits for the human body – such as a better way to control weight, to reduce a person’s risk of experiencing a heart attack, to lower a person’s risk of developing certain types of cancer and even to offer additional health benefits such as joint pain relief, as well a reduced risk of developing osteoporosis.

The Side-Effects of a Sedentary Lifestyle

A sedentary lifestyle refers to a situation where a person spends the majority of their time in a seated or laid down position. In this situation, a specific person lacks an adequate amount of physical activity. This often only gets worse with time if the person leading the sedentary lifestyle does not make changes themselves. They soon find themselves choosing vehicle transportation over walking, even when traveling for a short distance, or falling down onto the couch as soon as they get home from work, instead of taking a jog or even a brisk walk in the evening.

Many side-effects of a sedentary lifestyle have been identified. Hopkins Medicine reports that people who are not physically active have an increased risk of being diagnosed with conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, obesity and even for some cancers. These can all lessen a person’s life expectancy and lead to a build-up of different types of health conditions, which may all lead to an overall unhealthy feeling. Seeking advice can often be the best solution in such a case, which offers sound advice on how to get back on track with your fitness regimen.

Prevalence of Physical Inactivity

Even though many families own gym memberships, memberships to yoga studios and even cater to the physical activity of their children; millions of people are still leading physically inactive lifestyles. WHO reports that approximately 23% of the entire world’s adult population does not gain an adequate amount of physical activity on a daily basis. They also found that women were more likely to lead a sedentary lifestyle than man and that the prevalence of physical inactivity increases with age – 55% of individuals in the older age groups were found to be sedentary, while only 19% of individuals in the younger age groups were sedentary.

Study Finds Physical Inactivity to be as Harmful as Smoking

Could A Sedentary Lifestyle Be Just As Harmful As Smoking Cigarettes?The Harvard Medical School, located in Boston, recently completed a study, together with other medical institutes, in order to offer more accurate evidence of the health effects a sedentary lifestyle has on a person’s life. The focus of the study was to determine how a sedentary lifestyle linked to certain types of health conditions, as well as how the elimination of physical inactivity could improve life expectancy. After analyzing all of the results, they were able to make the following conclusions:

  • ♦ As much as 6% of coronary heart disease cases are caused by physical inactivity.
  • ♦ Among patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, up to 7% were caused by physical inactivity.
  • ♦ Up to 10% of both colon and breast cancer cases are caused by a physically inactive lifestyle.

They also report that as much as 9% of deaths are directly caused by a sedentary lifestyle. This includes as much as 5.3 million individuals every year. The study was also able to determine that, by simply getting the statistics for sedentary lifestyles to decrease by around 10%, as much as half a million people’s lives could be spared each year.


Physical activity, no matter in which form, is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle. It keeps the body fit and healthy, and it helps to reduce the body’s risk of developing several types of diseases. While smoking is usually the lifestyle habit people point towards when analyzing health risks, a recent study found that sitting all day and leading a sedentary lifestyle might be just as harmful as lighting a cigarette.

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