A new study found that physical inactivity could be as deadly as smoking.
The research published in the British publication The Lancet showed that one-third of adults are inactive. Researchers said that this attributes to as much as 5.3 million deaths a year.
Study authors believe that the problem should be treated as a serious pandemic. They also feel that the current focus on physical activity is centered more on the benefits of being active rather than the dangers of inactivity.
In battling this disease, researchers believe government agencies should develop programs to make activity more convenient, affordable and safe.
Experts recommend that adults complete 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week such as brisk walking, cycling, or house cleaning.
Results also found that people who have higher incomes are least likely to remain physically active. The UK rated the worst in inactivity with two-thirds of adults admitting they did not exercise.
This year’s Olympic games inspired The Lancet study.
"With the upcoming 2012 Olympic Games, sport and physical activity will attract tremendous worldwide attention,” said Pedro Hall, the study’s lead researcher. "Although the world will be watching elite athletes from many countries compete in sporting events… most spectators will be quite inactive.
Professor Lindsey Davies, the president of the UK Faculty of Health also supports the charge against massive inactivity.
"We need to do all we can to make it easy for people to look after their health and get active as part of their daily lives," she said. "Our environment has a significant part to play. For example, people who feel unsafe in their local park will be less likely to use it."
Many critics question if lack of exercise is just as dangerous as smoking.
Although the number of deaths related from smoking and inactivity are similar, smoking has a lower rate of people than the number of those not exercising. This makes smoking more risky.
"When it comes to preventing cancer, stopping smoking is by far the most important thing you can do," said Dr. Claire Knight, a spokesperson for Cancer Research UK.