How Sitting Around Is Ruining Australia's Health

Want more proof that never getting any exercise is bad for you? A global study by The Lancet suggests that physical inactivity causes around 10 per cent of deaths worldwide.

Picture by Sam Fraser-Smith

The study suggests that avoidable cases of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and breast and colon cancer were collectively responsible for 5.3 million of the 57 million deaths worldwide in 2008. Not all cases of those diseases are due to lack of activity, but it was a clear factor in those numbers, according to the researchers. "Physical inactivity has become a contributor to the burden of disease and shortening of life expectancy similar to tobacco smoking or obesity."

Activity levels vary widely between countries. A second Lancet study examines physical activity in different countries. One area where Australia clearly lags is in getting to work. Just 3.8 per cent of us walk to work, and just 0.9 per cent cycle regularly. Whether that's due to a lack of infrastructure or helmet laws, it eliminates one easy potential method of getting more exercise.

As we pointed out earlier today, this isn't a difficult problem to solve: just 30 minutes a day of walking is all you need.

The Lancet


    I had no idea that physical inactivity increased the risk of some cancers. That's a little scary.

    It's actually more the other way around- increased physical activity *decreases* the risk of some cancers. On the surface it sounds the same as saying inactivity increases the risk, but it's a distinct and important difference.

    "Just 30 minutes of walking per day" - that's easier said than done.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now