Although the prevalence of physical inactivity is high in Canada, few studies have assessed its public health impact.
A cause-deleted methodology was employed to estimate the effects of physical inactivity on life expectancy. Life expectancy in 2002 was estimated from an abridged life table analysis, which was repeated after removing deaths from physical inactivity. Deaths from physical inactivity were estimated from published population-attributable fractions for coronary artery disease, stroke, hypertension, colon cancer, breast cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
Life expectancy was 79.7 y in the total population, 77.2 y in males, and 82.1 y in females. Compared to overall life expectancy, physical inactivity cause-deleted values were 0.86 y lower in the total population, 0.65 y lower in males, and 1.0 y lower in females.
Life expectancy could be increased by over 10 months if Canadians could be encouraged to be physically active.
The author is with the School of Physical and Health Education and Dept of Community Health and Epidemiology, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, Canada.