Intended for healthcare professionals


Inactivity, disability, and death are all interlinked

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: (Published 29 April 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g2804
  1. Elizabeth Badley, professor1
  1. 1Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, 155 College Street, Toronto, ON, Canada, M5S 1A8
  1. Correspondence to: E.Badley{at}

If you must watch a lot of television, move during commercial breaks—every little helps

Physical activity has long been recognised as an important determinant of health and longevity, and many countries have explicit physical activity guidelines for promoting health.1 2 The corollary of this is that people who do not meet the guidelines, a substantial proportion of the population,3 are at risk of worse health. However, relatively little attention has been given to the question of how much activity is needed to make a difference. Although this is not explicitly their primary purpose, two new papers shed light on this question. Dunlop and colleagues (doi:10.1136/bmj.g2472) followed a cohort of people who had mild to moderate osteoarthritis or were at risk of osteoarthritis to look at the development of disability over two years.4 Cooper and colleagues (doi:10.1136/bmj.g2219) estimated the relation between physical capability in midlife—as indicated by grip strength, chair rise speed, and standing balance—and later mortality.5 Both showed that the relation between inactivity and risk of disability or death is not linear: people …

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