In recent years, more research is being dedicated to determining what risk factors can increase your chances of long-term health problems. A cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic recently completed a study on how a sedentary lifestyle can adversely affect your health, and the results were surprising, even for the doctor himself. What risks do we run by not maintaining an exercise regimen?

A Background of the Study
Originally beginning in 1991, the study found 122,007 patients to complete a test on a treadmill to determine their activity level. Using this, they measured the benefits of exercise throughout the patients’ lives, collecting date until the end of 2014. What their research determined, is that living a sedentary lifestyle, meaning that the patient does not incorporate exercise into their lifestyle, is more dangerous for your health than a wide range of well-known and common ailments.

When checking with the patients in 2014, the researchers were surprised to learn that those with a sedentary lifestyle were in worse health than those patients with diabetes, heart disease, or a history of smoking. Although heart disease continues to be one of the top causes of death in the United States, the risk of death from a non-active lifestyle can be just as, if not more devastating to a person’s health. The study found that patients who lived a sedentary lifestyle had a 500% higher risk of death than those who maintained an active lifestyle.

How Can One Become More Active?
At the conclusion of the study, the researchers determined that while more exercise will generally lower one’s risk of complications or premature death, any sort of activity can help improve their health in the future. In one study, Americans who replaced 30 minutes of sitting with 30 minutes of housework showed improvements in their overall health, while reducing their risk of significant health problems in the future.

For those who want to become more active, slowly integrating more physical activity, whether by incorporating a 30-minute walk into one’s routine or standing while working on a computer are small ways to improve one’s health through activity. For those who are unsure of how to become more active in their lives, resources like Mayo Clinic and American Heart Association provide guidelines on what they recommend, and how to get started.