One in 10 deaths worldwide can be blamed on illnesses that are caused by lack of exercise. This is about the same as the number of deaths from smoking. Experts say this problem has reached pandemic proportions, according to new research in the medical journal The Lancet.
When people don't exercise they are more likely to die from heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and breast and colon cancer. Exercise could have prevented about 60,000 deaths from heart disease in the Americas and about 121,000 in Europe in 2008, according to the report.
The scientists looked at 10 years of research on ways to promote physical activity and identified a number of effective strategies to help us get the 150 minutes of exercise we need each week.
First of all, it's important for communities to create places for people to exercise such as parks, walking paths or bike trails and lanes. Improving street-level lighting and aesthetics can increase activity levels by as much as 50 percent, according to some of the findings.
Partnerships between health agencies and community organizations to promote fitness campaigns can help. Programs to promote physical activity at work sites and schools, as well as support networks such as walking clubs are also effective.
(Rick Vincent for CNN's Health Minute)