April/May 2015 (vol. 11/6)

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Research Plus

Moderate activity pays dividends

Efforts to encourage even small increases in physical activity (PA) among inactive individuals can have important health benefits, according to this cohort study of over 334,000 participants in 10 European countries, including the UK. Height, weight and waist circumference (WC) were measured, while PA was assessed using an initial (baseline) self-report questionnaire. Mean follow-up was 12.4 years. There were significant interactions between PA, WC and body mass index (BMI). Almost one-quarter (23%) of participants were categorised as ‘inactive’ – doing no physical activity and having sedentary jobs. Doing the equivalent of a 20-minute brisk walk every day (90–110 kcal/day energy expenditure) would take the individual from being inactive to ‘moderately inactive’ and reduce their all-cause mortality (death rate) risk by 20%–30%. Inactive individuals of normal weight (BMI 18.5–24.9) would reduce their all-cause mortality risk even further – by 41% – by becoming active. However, for those with high BMI (30 or more) there would be no further risk reduction in moving from moderately inactive to active. Based on this data, physical inactivity is responsible for twice as many premature deaths as high BMI. 

American Journal of Clinical Exercise 2015; 101: 613–621. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.100065


Occupational Health at Work April/May 2015 (vol. 11/6) pp47-48