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Study Says Not Exercising Is Worse For Your Health Than Smoking

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Bad news for those who prefer to spend their free time binge-watching Netflix as opposed to hitting up a spin class -- the latest scientific research suggests not exercising is actually worse for your health than smoking.

Say it isn't so!

The disturbing findings, uncovered by a team of researchers at the Cleveland Clinic, were published just last week in the journal JAMA Network Open. The study spanned a whopping 23 years (from 1991 to 2014) and included 122,007 patients. The participants endured treadmill testing and then were later studied to record mortality rates. Study authors found what we've long thought -- there's a definite correlation between a longer life and regular exercise.

The findings that were a bit more of a surprise included the negative impact of a sedentary lifestyle, which researchers say is the equivalent to having a major disease.

In an interview with CNN, one of the study's co-authors, Dr Wael Jaber, said, “Being unfit on a treadmill or in an exercise stress test has a worse prognosis, as far as death, than being hypertensive, being diabetic or being a current smoker. We’ve never seen something as pronounced as this and as objective as this."

And if you're one of those people who likes to rationalize a lack of exercise with the idea that people who overdo it at the gym are actually putting unnecessary wear and tear on their bodies, well, that excuse isn't exactly going to fly. The study did look at what they deemed "ultra" exercisers as well and found no evidence that their risk of death is any higher because of it. So, really, there's no reason not to hit up that pilates class (except, of course, your crazy busy work and family schedule).

If the idea of going to the gym makes you break out in hives, there are smaller ways to incorporate activity into your lifestyle that can count as exercise. Take a walk during your lunch break (and maybe make it a brisk one), park further away from the grocery store so you have to hustle a bit before you get inside, agree to that game of soccer with the kids. Every motion adds up, and it doesn't have to mean being yelled at for 45 minutes by a spin instructor who is acting as though the class is actually competing in the Tour de France. Find ways to move that you enjoy and your body will thank you.

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