HEALTH: Why Skipping Exercise Can Be Deadly

Recent studies show how neglecting your weight and fitness has serious consequences for your health.

One day in the summer of 2001, George Smith decided to run to the end of his block. For many, that short distance might be conquered in a minute or two. But Smith, a 21-year-old who weighed nearly 275 pounds at the time, barely made it--and hobbled back to his doorstep. Yet, he refused to quit and increased his distance daily; it was three months before he ran a mile, but the challenge changed his life.
Now, George, a marketing copywriter in London, exercises for an hour most days of the week. He is a lean, muscular 170 pounds. At an annual check up, his physician remarked that his low blood pressure and cholesterol were likely an improvement from even before he gained excess weight in the late 1990s.

In Depth: Why Skipping Exercise Can Be Deadly

"Losing a lot of weight and changing your body has a profound impact,” Smith says.
More than he may expect, it turns out. According to a study of more than 4,300 people published this summer in the journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, the least-fit individuals had a three-fold increased all-cause mortality risk and a nearly four-fold increased cardiovascular mortality risk when compared to the most fit. In other words, improving your fitness level can better your chances for a longer life.

That study is just one in a recent spate of research in children and adults that draws connections between physical inactivity or obesity and poor health outcomes. It’s no secret that exercise is critical to excellent health, but many of us let the week slip by with nothing more than a brisk walk to the parking lot. Yet, neglecting one's weight and fitness is a certain path to increased risk for life-shortening ailments and conditions.

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