Trying to make sense of mortality rate data

August 30, 2010

I found this article a few weeks ago that quantified the risk of physical inactivity (specifically, not biking to work), at a 39% higher mortality rate.

I think that means that if the baseline mortality rate is 750 deaths per 100,000 (that’s about the US mortality rate), then 40% higher would be 300 more deaths, or 1050 per 100,000.
Except, since the norm in the US is non-cycling and mostly inactive, the difference is 214 deaths, from a hypothetically exercising baseline of 536.

Is this a big difference? Probably. We regard working in the fishing and timber industries as being very dangerous (pdf, p. 4), but their additional risks are 200 and 62 deaths per 100,000 per year, respectively.

Seems to me that I ought to be owed a reduction in my life insurance premiums, as long as I keep biking to work.

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