Sweeping New Study Says Not Exercising Is Worse For Your Health Than Smoking

by Valerie Williams
Originally Published: 
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Not exercising is a pretty dangerous health choice, according to a new study

It’s not really shocking to hear that exercise is extremely beneficial, but a new study’s proving that skipping out on regular aerobic exercise is one of the worst things you can do when it comes to staying healthy. So bad, in fact, that researchers claim it’s even worse for you than smoking.

In case you needed an excuse to put yourself first for 30 minutes a day (and we all know what a tall order THAT can be when you have kids and a life), a new study says that not exercising is actually a more consequential choice for your health than smoking. Yes, that’s right — smoking cigarettes is less harmful than not getting in a little treadmill time.

The findings were published last week in the journal JAMA Network Open. They detail research done by the Cleveland Clinic on 122,007 patients from 1991 to 2014 where the study participants were put under treadmill testing with researchers later recording mortality information. Over the life of the study, it was discovered that high levels of aerobic exercise were clearly connected to longevity. The report’s call to action? For healthcare providers to encourage their patients to make exercise a top priority.

The study says, “Cardiorespiratory fitness is inversely associated with long-term mortality with no observed upper limit of benefit. Extremely high aerobic fitness was associated with the greatest survival and was associated with benefit in older patients and those with hypertension.”

In other words, exercise is pretty damn important if you want to stay healthy. Like, really important.

Dr Wael Jaber, the study’s co-author, thinks the results are pretty “surprising.”

“Being unfit on a treadmill or in an exercise stress test has a worse prognosis, as far as death, than being hypertensive, being diabetic or being a current smoker,” Jaber told CNN. “We’ve never seen something as pronounced as this and as objective as this.”

Of course, it’s pretty well accepted that an active lifestyle is an important part of living a healthy life, but this research points to being sedentary as a more serious problem than some might realize. The study even looked at possible downfalls of exercising too much, and discovered that the more a person works out, the better off they are as far as living a long, healthy life.

Now, no one’s saying we must drop our usual (insanely busy) lives and spend two hours a day at the gym. Who even has the time? But maybe this study can help some of us justify taking a little time each day, even if it’s only to walk the dogs a bit longer or make a few laps around the block listening to 90s hip-hop. It’s hard to ignore evidence like this, and we’re all, every single busy mom, absolutely worth it.

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