As of 2012, the average life expectancy at birth for women is 83.4 years and for men is 79.4 years in Norway, according to Folkehelseinstituttet. One could argue that any death before that age is “premature”.
In the context of physical activity, when it is stated “a higher risk of death/premature death”, it means that an inactive person die earlier than an active person. Same is true in regard to any other disease (heart disease, cancer etc.)
Some studies calculate the “Years of potential life lost” before the age of average life expectancy, which examines the total number of years of life that were lost in a population of 100, 000 when deaths occur before age of average life expectancy.
On the other hand, health is defined not only by the length of life but also its quality. How many years a person lives, and how many years of life lost, carry different meaning depending on the texture and context of one’s life, physical and mental well-being and suffering, productivity, hope and plans, and the family and social environment. Therefore, “morbidity” (a diseased state, disability, or poor health due to any cause) is sometimes described along with risk of death.
And: Regular exercise makes you both live longer and with good health and quality of life!
Javaid Nauman, Researcher at CERG