Dying To Sit: Inactivity Is Killing Us

In 2012 Dr I Min Lee from Harvard published a paper which found that as many people die from inactivity as smoking. It’s a shocking statistic when we consider how much time and money is spent on anti-smoking campaigns and products.

Inactivity levels have soared worldwide. In the UK and Ireland we are 20% less active than we were 25 years ago with 71% of 12-year-old boys and 81% of 12-year-old girls now failing to meet the minimum physical activity guidelines of 60 minutes a day.

Why have we become so inactive?

  • The duration of leisure time has decreased as we work longer hours
  • Improvements in transport mean we walk and cycle less
  • Building in time for physical activity gets harder as we become busier
  • As our towns and cities become more built up we are losing space to walk, cycle, play
  • The changing nature of leisure pursuits has changed, particularly as technology has advanced
  • Our work lives have become more automated so we are more sedentary while at work
  • The changing nature of community life has impacted on the availability of resources and supports

And what have these changes led to:

  • A whole range of diseases, particularly heart disease, diabetes, cancer and stroke
  • Obesity
  • Reduced bone density, muscle strength and joint flexibility which contributes to increased falls and breakages
  • Poorer concentration and problem solving
  • Reduced energy
  • Increased negative behavioural issues
  • Reduced physical skills such as balance and coordination
  • Poorer mood with increased anxiety and stress
  • Reduced general fitness and stamina

The World Health Organisation lists inactivity as one of the three main risk factors leading to chronic disease. Diet and smoking are the other two factors and but even something as arbitrary as the number of Google results each of the risk factors returns says much of where our focus is.

  • Obesity: 72.3 million Google results
  • Smoking: 444 million Google results
  • Inactivity: 29 million Google results

So are we doing enough to tackle the effects of inactivity? Zoom Boom Kids doesn’t think so. That’s why all our products and campaign work aims to get kids moving more and get policy makers to make a bigger difference.


Original Abstract in The Lancet

News article in New Scientist (lay interpretation)

Related blogs:

Read our related blog on reason for keeping kids active: https://zoomboomkids.com/2014/11/13/gotta-move-it-10-reasons-to-keep-kids-active/

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