Bad news for office workers or those who are explicitly lazy. A new study finds that physical inactivity accounts for 5 million deaths and $67.5 billion in expenses every year.
A sedentary lifestyle, which includes sitting for more than eight hours a day, has been associated with the increased risks of developing certain health issues including diabetes, cancers and heart disease. But the good news is that simple activities, brisk walking for instance, can help reduce the perceived higher risks of early death.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the deaths linked to an inactive lifestyle is nearly the same as the ones linked to smoking, which is 6 million deaths annually.
The authors of the new study raised that in recent years, there has been slow progress in addressing the "pandemic of physical inactivity."
Professor Ulf Ekelund from Cambridge University and the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences added that WHO's advice to spend at least 150 minutes doing moderate exercises weekly may not suffice.
"You don't need to do sport or go to the gym ... but you do need to do at least one hour a day," said Ekelund, adding good examples such as walking (at 5.6 kilometers or 3.4 miles an hour) and cycling (at 16 kilometers or 10 miles an hour).
The study found that people who stay seated for eight hours daily but stay active nonetheless have lower risks of suffering from early death. This is compared with those who sit for less than eight hours but are less active.
The finding suggests that exercise is a vital factor in the prevention of early death, regardless of how many hours people spend sitting daily.
In another part of the study led by University of Sydney's Melody Ding, researchers estimated the total yearly expenses cost by the five major diseases that are associated with physical inactivity. These diseases include diabetes, stroke, heart disease and colon and breast cancers.
Based on their computations, the estimated productivity losses and healthcare costs amounted to $67.5 billion in global expenses in 2013 alone.
"At a global and individual country level these figures are likely to be an underestimate of the real cost, because of the conservative methodologies used by the team and lack of data in many countries," added Ding.
Ding added that majority of the costs appear to be clustered in wealthier nations. However, as poorer nations begin to develop, they could also feel the economic burdens of chronic diseases stemming from the lack of exercises.
According to Lancet Physical Activity Series Steering Committee member Professor Adrian Bauman, exercise is the "key" to lowering the increasing chronic disease rates.
Bauman added that "Increasing physical activity levels in communities is an important investment that governments should consider which could lead to savings in healthcare costs and more productivity in the labour market."