Updated 28 February 2013

Not exercising could kill you

Exercising for 30 minutes a day cuts your risk of dying from disease by a whopping 25% and decreases your risk of developing diabetes by 58%, dementia by 50% and depression by 47%.


Just exercising for 30 minutes a day could cut your risk of dying from disease by a whopping 25%. This is according to Professor Vikki Lambert of the Sports Science Institute of South Africa.

“Low fitness is one of the biggest killers of people per year and is the most prevalent risk factor globally,” she said, adding that South Africa has the fourth highest risk on the continent of Africa. “Exercise is the one thing everyone can change, and if everyone who is in active made the decision to move we could save up to 2 million lives.” 

Lambert’s claims echo the findings of many recent studies hailing the benefits of daily exercise in the prevention of non-communicable diseases. This YouTube video illustrates what is fast becoming a globally-recognised need for a minimum of 150 minutes a week of exercise.

The video illustrates Lambert’s point, that daily exercise can decrease your risk of developing diabetes by 58%, dementia by 50%, arthritis by 47% and depression by 47%.

A report in the journal Circulation also points to the urgent need for people to get moving: “Physical inactivity remains a pressing public health issue. Technology and economic incentives tend to discourage activity, technology by reducing the energy needed for activities of daily living, and economics by paying more for sedentary than active work.”

Sitting the biggest killer

However, while the recommendations to get a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise a day for good health remain, Lambert says this can still be undermined if you spend the majority of your day sitting.

“I often tell my bosses I want danger pay for sitting at a computer all day. Even though I meet the daily exercise guidelines the fact that I sit at a computer all day still puts me at a 1.5 fold higher increased risk,” she said.

This study done recently found that out of more than 200 000 adults in the research group  aged 45 and older, people who reported sitting for at least 11 hours a day were 40% more likely to die during the study than those who sat less than four hours daily.

It also found that too much sitting may affect blood vessels and metabolism by increasing fats in the blood and lowering HDL cholesterol levels and concluded that “even for people who have jobs that involve a lot of desk work, there are ways to train you to regularly interrupt sedentary behaviour”.

Where to begin

Yet while the benefits of exercise are numerous, there are still many reasons people find not to meet the daily recommendations. We recommend taking it one step at a time, first read this on how to get started and for some added motivation on why you should exercise.

Secondly, find an exercise programme that will not only fit into your routine, but which you will enjoy and therefore be more likely to stick with. Find a programme here from walking to swimming, beginner to pro to get you started.

If you’re still not 100% sure what exercises you should be doing, post a question here to FitnessDoc and see what he advises.

The most important thing is to get moving, once you’ve started it’s all downhill.

(References: Professor Vikki Lambert, Sports Science Institute of SA)

(Amy Froneman, Health24, April 2012) 


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