Everyone knows that not exercising is bad for you. The Journal of American Medical Association has released new research that confirms a sedentary lifestyle is more harmful for you than smoking cigarettes on a regular basis.

Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic Foundation came to this same determination after completing a 23 year study, which used treadmill tests to determine the cardiovascular health of thousands of participants. Near the end of the study period, researchers recorded mortality rates and looked at the relationship between aerobic fitness levels and age of death.

As Time magazine quoted from the report, the results showed that "cardio-respiratory fitness is inversely associated with long-term mortality with no observed upper limit of benefit." Furthermore, those individuals who were in superior shape in terms of aerobic fitness level had the greatest chances of living longer.

Dr. Wael Jaber of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, who co-authored the study, told CNN the study's participants who did not exercise regularly dramatically increased their risk of dying at an earlier age.

"Being unfit on a treadmill or in an exercise stress test has a worse prognosis, as far as death, than being hypertensive, being diabetic or being a current smoker," Jaber explained. "We've never seen something as pronounced as this and as objective as this."

Doctor measuring blood pressure. Exercise helps to lower blood pressure naturally.

Worldwide, obesity has reached epidemic proportions, with far too many people consuming more calories than they're burning. Canada is no exception. According to 2017 data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, Canada is among the top ten countries in terms of the percentage of people who are overweight. Nearly 26% of the population over 15 years of age are considered obese.

With 2018 in the rearview mirror and 2019 right around the corner, now's the perfect time to plan your weight loss goals. That starts by making exercise a regular part of your daily routine. Here are a few strategies that can help you get started:

Take Baby Steps
If you're someone who hasn't exercised much in the past, transitioning to a more active lifestyle can be a major change. To avoid burnout, approach exercise as you would any other new endeavour: slowly. Instead of running two miles, start out by walking briskly. Then, once you feel ready, increase the intensity by jogging and going a bit farther.

Do What You Enjoy
You don't have to be a marathoner to be fit. There are many forms of exercise that boost your aerobic fitness level. Whether it's team sports, cycling, swimming or jumping rope, find an exercise that you enjoy and keep up with it so it becomes a habit.

Workout with a Friend
Exercising, meal planning, and goal-setting with your spouse, friend or family member is a great way to stay accountable. Whether you're trying to lose weight, hit a certain fitness milestone, or kick an unhealthy habit, it's far easier when you know you have support. 

Join a Wellness Center
Becoming a member at a gym or wellness center also helps with accountability because you pay to join. Gyms have a ton of resources that can give you the tools to achieve results faster, including equipment, fitness classes, supplements and trainers (where available).

Make 2019 the Year of You by strengthening your inner and outer self through exercise.