Inactive people at risk of dying prematurely

Inactive people at risk of dying prematurely
Photo: The Star/ Asia News Network

PETALING JAYA - Brisk exercise everyday can offset the risks of early death linked to desk-bound jobs, say scientists.

In a series of articles as part of a study of physical activity published in the Lancet, it is found that those who sit for a long time and are inactive are at a greater risk of premature death.

Experts found that people who sat for eight hours a day, but were physically active, had a lower risk of premature death compared to people who sat for fewer hours a day, but were not active.

The study also found that watching television was worse than sitting at a desk, probably due to the likelihood of people snacking while they watch TV.

Prof Ulf Ekelund of the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences and the University of Cambridge led the study that compared active and inactive people.

He was quoted in the article as saying that an hour of physical activity a day was ideal, but if an hour was not manageable, doing just some exercise each day could help reduce the risk of early death.

"As a medical doctor, I am happy if a patient is willing to do 30 or 45 minutes of exercise a day," said a Malaysian general practitioner (GP) who requested anonymity.

"It is not necessary to exercise a whole 45 minutes in one go. You can split it up in 15 minutes intervals, perhaps once in the morning, once after lunch, and once before dinner," she told The Star Online Friday.

She, however, said that the problem was that many Malaysians were not motivated to exercise regularly.

"I would say that only 10 to 15% of my patients exercise regularly," she said.

"Many people will come up with excuses such as having finished work late. But at the end of the day, you have to make a commitment to yourself to exercise.

"You don't have to join the gym, there are so many exercises you can do at home. I myself would exercise using YouTube videos," she said.

Malaysians in particular are tempted by food and are at risk of overeating.

"We have so many food outlets open throughout the day, and it is affordable to just takeaway something to eat rather than to cook a healthier meal at home," said the GP.

But the combination of overeating and lack of exercise can increase the risk of developing several health problems like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol) and some cancers.

"Seldom do we see loved ones that fall sick. It jolts us to do something about our own lifestyle. Don't wait for something like that to happen before deciding to lead a healthier life," she said.

The physical activity series also encourages policy makers to take physical activity more seriously and to provide sufficient capacity and funding to implement national policies.

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