What health risks are associated with physical inactivity?

Lack of physical activity has clearly been shown to be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

  • Less active, less fit persons have a 30 to 50 percent greater risk of developing high blood pressure. 
  • Although no direct link exists between regular exercise and stroke, it is known that exercise reduces the risk of other health problems, such as heart disease, which can contribute to stroke.

Facts about sedentary lifestyles

Thousands and thousands of deaths result each year due to a lack of regular physical activity. According to the Surgeon General's report, more than 60 percent of adults do not get the recommended amount of exercise. The report also stated that:

  • One-third of adults are not physically active at all.
  • Inactivity increases with age.
  • Women are more likely to lead sedentary lifestyles than men.
  • Physical activity declines rapidly with age during adolescence, especially among females.

The Healthy People 2010 report, produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, found that physically inactive people are twice as likely to develop coronary heart disease (CHD) as people who do regular physical exercises. Physical inactivity, which is almost as high of a risk factor as cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, and high blood cholesterol, is far more prevalent than any other risk factor.