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If you’ve been thinking about an exercise program, it’s about time to get off the couch. A new study from Harvard suggests that inactivity can be as hazardous to your health as smoking and that a sedentary lifestyle is the cause of one in 10 deaths worldwide.
The research team included investigators from 33 countries who analyzed data gathered in 2008 on deaths. They found that the “couch potato syndrome” adds up to six percent of all cases of coronary heart disease, about 7 percent of type 2 diabetes and 10 percent of breast and colon cancers.
In real numbers, that amounts to 5.3 million deaths per year, more than the 5 million lives lost annually to smoking. The researchers estimated that if only 10 percent of those who are currently inactive started to exercise, 533,000 lives would be saved; if 25 percent began moving, 1.3 million deaths could be averted. The amount of exercise needed is pretty modest – 30 minutes of brisk walking or cycling five days a week.