Even minimal exercise reduces mortality risk in metabolic syndrome

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Metabolic syndrome affects approximately 20-30% of the population in industrialized countries, and encompasses a group of medical risk factors such as lack of exercise, central obesity and high blood pressure. In combination, these risk factors increase the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disorders and diabetes. People with metabolic syndrome are three times more likely to die prematurely from cardiovascular disease than those without a metabolic syndrome. Therefore, reducing mortality in metabolic syndrome sufferers is of high importance.

In a research article published this week in BMC Medicine, Dorthe Stensvold and colleagues followed a large cohort of people with metabolic syndrome for a decade and assessed them for rates of mortality in relation to levels of exercise. Physical activity was associated with a lower risk of death, and this occurred in a dose dependent fashion, with higher levels of physical activity being associated with lower risks of mortality. However, strikingly, even a low level of physical activity was associated with reduced mortality compared with being inactive. This research highlights the importance of physical activity, and its role in reducing the risk of premature death in those with metabolic syndrome.