Remember when smoking was not only considered harmless, but was common in offices, airplanes, restaurants’and even hospitals?
It seems crazy now, but it took numerous studies showing smoking’s ill effects to turn it from a societal norm into an offensive habit.
Now, while smoking is at an all-time low, another dangerous habit has become just as deadly: Inactivity.
It may come as a surprise that not doing anything could be as deadly as sucking toxic smoke into our lungs, but a new study published in the Lancet shows that lack of exercise is causing 5.3 million deaths a year.
“The global challenge is clear – make physical activity a public health priority throughout the world to improve health and reduce the burden of disease,” Pedro Hallal, one of the lead researchers, said.
Health Canada recommends that adults get at least 2.5 hours a week of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity, and do exercises that target muscles and bones at least two days per week. Unfortunately, according to this study, a third of adults aren’t.
The study showed that individuals with a body mass index (BMI) of over 30 make more trips to their GP or family doctor, on average, than daily smokers who are not obese.
‘The fact that obesity is more serious than smoking helps people understand the gravity of the problem because they already have some kind of intuitive understanding of how bad smoking is,’ said James McIntosh, a professor in the Department of Economics at Concordia University in Montreal, and the study’s lead author.
McIntosh has a point’we do understand how bad smoking is. But it wasn’t that long ago we were lighting up in hospital waiting rooms.
The Lancet study mentioned that Olympic spectators will be watching elite athletes compete, while remaining inactive themselves.
When will we realize that’s just as illogical as smoking in a hospital?
What do you think? Is it time we took inactivity as seriously as we take smoking?
-Katharine Watts, Associate Web Editor & Jennifer Shenouda, Editorial Intern