(HealthDay News) – Physical inactivity has a considerable impact on the burden of major non-communicable diseases, and causes 9% of premature mortality worldwide.

To quantify the effect of physical inactivity on major non-communicable diseases, I-Min Lee, ScD, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and colleagues calculated the population attributable fractions associated with physical inactivity for each of the major non-communicable diseases, by country. In addition, the estimated gains in life expectancy which would occur if inactivity was decreased or eliminated were assessed using life-table analysis.

The researchers found that, worldwide, physical inactivity causes 6, 7, 10, and 10% of the burden of disease from coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, and colon cancer, respectively. Of the 57 million deaths that occurred worldwide in 2008, inactivity accounted for more than 5.3 million, causing 9% of premature mortality. More than 533,000 and more than 1.3 million deaths, respectively, could be prevented each year if inactivity was decreased by 10 or 25%. Elimination of physical inactivity could increase the world population life expectancy by 0.68 years.

“With elimination of physical inactivity, life expectancy of the world’s population might be expected to increase by 0.68 years. These findings make inactivity similar to the established risk factors of smoking and obesity,” the authors write. “We must explore all avenues and support all efforts to reduce physical inactivity worldwide.”

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