News / Health

While Olympians Peak, Lack of Activity Remains a Leading Global Cause of Death

United States'  Allyson Felix crosses the finish line to win the women's 200-meters final ahead of compatriot Carmelita Jeter, left, and Ivory Coast's Murielle Ahoure, at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
United States' Allyson Felix crosses the finish line to win the women's 200-meters final ahead of compatriot Carmelita Jeter, left, and Ivory Coast's Murielle Ahoure, at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
TEXT SIZE - +
Rosanne Skirble
Physical inactivity is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide. Seeking to raise awareness about the problem, the British journal, The Lancet, is highlighting the problem during the Olympic Games, when attention is focused on athletes at the top of their game.  

Lack of exercise also contributes to up to 10 percent of deaths worldwide from diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and colon and breast cancer, according to the special issue of the Lancet.

The impact of physical inactivity is comparable to smoking, says Harvard University epidemiologist I. Min Lee, who worked with a team to produce the Lancet report, comparing data on physical inactivity with disease prevalence in 122 countries.

Lee says the findings are conservative and may even underestimate the problem.
Physical Inactivity Kills
Physical Inactivity Killsi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X


 “When we did our analysis,” she says, “we looked at increased risk of disease after taking into account other health habits that may be associated with physical activity." For example, Lee adds,"We know that if you are active, you probably smoke less. Additionally we factored out obesity, independent of the fact that active people also tend to weigh less.”

Also writing in the Lancet, epidemiologist Harold Kohl with the University of Texas School of Public Health, says physical inactivity, because of its global reach, high prevalence and harm, should be recognized as a global pandemic. 
An obese person might not only die sooner, but could also experience years of poor health.An obese person might not only die sooner, but could also experience years of poor health.
x
An obese person might not only die sooner, but could also experience years of poor health.
An obese person might not only die sooner, but could also experience years of poor health.

“We have to realize that high income countries are the most inactive around the world, but low to middle income countries are not going to be far behind as things change, as their economies improve and their people rely more on the improvements that basically engineer physical activity out of our daily lives.”

Kohl points to focused campaigns that continue to reduce smoking and alcohol use, arguing it is time to target physical inactivity as a major threat to public health.   

He says reducing inactivity is not only the responsibility of the individual, but of the community, “how we rely on the transportation sector or how our cities or neighborhoods are designed, how crime can be minimized to help people become more physically active in their neighborhoods, simply walking to the store or walking down and being outside with friends and family."

Kohl says these broader environmental issues are becoming much clearer in terms of their effects.
        
Lee agrees, and hopes the numbers in her Lancet study jumpstart change, including the challenge to do 150 minutes of moderately intense exercise a week.

“Anything you can do is great,” she says. "Even if you don’t reach that 150 minutes a week, a little is better than none and more is better than a little.”
   
And, she adds, just like the Olympics, she intends to return every four years with a report to gauge how all of us are doing.

You May Like

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid