Couch potatoes are twice as likely to die early, according to a study of 23,000 adults.
The study, which tracked people for more than two decades, found that those with sedentary lifestyles for the whole period saw their risk of early death rise by 99%.
The chance of a deadly heart attack or stroke was 168% higher than among people who regularly did at least two hours’ exercise a week.
People who were inactive at the start of the study, but got fit in later life, managed to reduce their risk of dying young by around half, according to the study reported by the Telegraph.
Lead researcher Dr Trine Moholdt, from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, said physical activity helps people to live longer and better lives.
“Our findings imply that to get the maximum health benefits of physical activity in terms of protection against premature all-cause and cardiovascular death, you need to continue being physically active,” Moholdt added. “You can also reduce your risk by taking up physical activity later in life, even if you have not been active before.”
The study also found that doing low levels of exercise raises death risk. Being active for less than two hours weekly raised chances of dying young by 60% compared to fit adults. It increased the risk of killer heart events by 90%.