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Not Exercising is More Lethal than Smoking, Diabetes

By Sandy Schroeder

Today’s health push to be more active just got a huge boost from Dr. Wael Jaber, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.  Dr. Jaber said his research found, “Being unfit on a treadmill or in an exercise stress test has a worse prognosis, as far as death, than being hypertensive, diabetic or a current smoker.”

Dr Jaber and his colleagues drew their conclusions from the study they just published in the journal, JAMA Network Open. They studied 122,007 patients who did exercise treadmill testing at Cleveland Clinic from 1991 to 2014, measuring all-cause mortality related to the benefits of fitness and exercise. Twelve percent of the participants had the lowest exercise rate.

Being Unfit Compared to a Disease

Dr. Jaber said the population needs to know how deadly the choice to not exercise can be. Jaber said, “Being unfit is almost like a disease that calls for a prescription, which is exercise.”

Other researchers, who were not involved in the study, said once a physician clears a patient for exercise they should not hesitate to exercise.

Looking at the Benefits

According to the researchers, you can be in your 40s or your 80s and benefit in the same way. Exercise works for men and women of all ages. What is shocking is how much of a risk a sedentary lifestyle is. Jaber said he was surprised that the sedentary risk overwhelmed risk factors in smoking, diabetes and even end-stage disease.

  • The risk of sitting is about three times higher than smoking
  • An unfit person’s risk is 500 percent greater than that of a peak athlete
  • Someone who does not exercise much is at a 390 percent higher risk than those who exercise regularly.

Dr. Jaber said, "People who do not perform very well on a treadmill test have almost double the risk of people with kidney failure on dialysis.”

The size of the study, and the fact that research was based on actual treadmill performance instead of self-reporting, makes the study unique, according to the researchers. 

Critical Conclusion

The message to get moving is totally clear. The researchers emphasize,  â€œYou can never get too much exercise, but it’s definitely possible to get too little.”

I don’t know how you feel, but I am looking at my treadmill and yoga efforts to see what else I should add.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Huntington Beach, Calif.

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