Not exercising worse for your health than smoking

Grant Boone
October 24, 2018

The researchers looked at the possibility of diehard gym rats and marathoners being at risk from pushing themselves too hard, but found that there's no link between an abundance of exercise and an early grave.

In fact, the study claims not exercising might be more harmful to your health than smoking. "We can see from the study that the ultra-fit still have lower mortality".

"Cardiovascular disease and diabetes are the most expensive diseases in the United States. Rather than pay huge sums for disease treatment, we should be encouraging our patients and communities to be active and exercise daily", said Dr. Jordan Metzl, sports medicine physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery and author of the book "The Exercise Cure".

Previously researchers have been concerned with the idea of over exercising or "ultra" exercises and that those who excessively exercise might be at a higher risk of death, but this study found that not to be the case. But in recent years, there's actually been evidence that elite athletes and other heavy exercisers might paradoxically be at greater risk of some heart conditions than the average person, such as an irregular heartbeat, clogged arteries, and thickened heart valves.

When the subgroups were analyzed by age, the survival benefit of elite versus high performance was most notable in older patients. "Once cleared by their physicians, patients shouldn't be afraid of exercise intensity".

Runners in the City 2 Surf race
Runners in the City 2 Surf race

In fact, they found that those who were unfit in the treadmill had worse prognosis in regard to death risk compared to smokers, those who are hypertensive, or those who have diabetes.

Interestingly, the researchers also found no age or gender limit to the benefits of exercise, in that even those who are elderly or those with a history of heart risk factors and heart disease can still benefit from the regiment.

"If you compare the risk of sitting versus the highest performing on the exercise test, the risk is about three times higher than smoking", Jaber explained. Sure, exercise contributes to better health, but not all workouts are the same, and different bodies benefit from different types of exercise.

The authors write, "Cardiorespiratory fitness is inversely associated with long-term mortality with no observed upper limit of benefit". Doctors have become good at treating patients with prescriptions for the symptoms of CVD, but these events can be treated. But that isn't to say that exercise is only for people who are hoping to run a marathon.

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