Physical Activity for Persons with Obesity-A Health Project Reported

By Andersson, Eva A.; Defaire, Gi et al. | Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table, Spring 2008 | Go to article overview

Physical Activity for Persons with Obesity-A Health Project Reported


Andersson, Eva A., Defaire, Gi, Hultgren, an, Nilsson, Johnny, Oddsson, Kristjan, Olin, Hedvig, Strand, Leif, Wahlgren, Lina, Wedman, Ingemar, Ekblom, Orjan, Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table


Introduction

Increased physical activity habits and fitness (aerobic and strength capacities) are positively-related factors for promoting health and preventing and treating diseases / problems, including metabolic and cardiovascular diseases, several cancers, psychological and musculoskeletal problems/diseases, and obesity and overweight (Astrand 1997, Bouchard 2000, Pedersen and Saltin 2006, Abadie 2007, Wilmore, et al. 2008). Recently updated physical activity guidelines (ACSM 2007, Nelson, et al. 2007) state: "The preventive recommendation specifies how adults, by engaging in regular physical activity, can promote and maintain health, and reduce risk of chronic disease and premature death." Hence, the task at hand is to identify attractive and effective forms of physical activity intervention.

A strongly graded inverse association between physical activity and obesity has been shown both for adults (Bouchard 2000, Hemmingsson and Ekelund 2007) and for children (Ness, et al. 2007). If advice and counseling concerning physical activity are given in everyday clinical practice, especially if repeated, the habits will increase, according to a Swedish report in which results from several international investigations are systematically reviewed regarding "Methods of Promoting Physical Activity" (Board of Directors and the Scientific Advisory Committee, SBU 2006). That scientific report also presents several other evidence-based methods which have shown improved physical activity habits. These include written prescriptions of physical activity, diaries, step-counters, information folders, supervised exercise in groups and individualized programs (the two latter discussed for persons with coronary and peripheral arterial diseases), organized training programs; theory-based behavioral interventions, and studies including the whole life-style: physical activity, diet and stress management. School based interventions with methods for children and adolescents are also described in the report. These have several components (teacher training, curriculum modifications, additional physical activity sessions within and outside the ordinary school timetable, support for behavioral changes, improved health education and parental involvement) which increase physical activity during school hours and sometimes in leisure time. School-based interventions also reportedly increase the physical activity level to some extent for groups with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Physical activity can be improved with greater school resources, health education, textbooks, study materials and teacher training (Board of Directors and the Scientific Advisory Committee--SBU 2006).

Health effects of regular physical activity

Examples of health effects of regular physical activity are: decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure, lowered "bad" blood lipids (TG, LDL) and increased "good" (HDL), increased blood vessels in skeletal muscle, increased maximal oxygen uptake, lowered heart rate while resting and during submaximal exertion, lowered activity in the sympathetic nervous system, increased muscle strength, higher bone density, improved balance, increased flexibility, less stress hormone cortisol, improved sleep, increased well-being, increased endorphins, noradrenalin and serotonins, increased brain-cell production, increased insulin sensibility; also increased non insulin-dependent glucose uptake, increased enzymes for musculoskeletal metabolism, decreased blood lactate during exertion, increased ability to use fat in skeletal muscle metabolism, increased endurance, counteraction of overweight, increased firmness and function in joints, lowered perceived effort during work at certain loads, higher tolerance of increased temperature, lowered thrombosis (thrombocyte adhesion), and decreased morbidity/mortality from cardiovascular diseases, type II-diabetes, overweight/obesity, depression, musculoskeletal problems, cancer and osteoporosis (Astrand 1997, 2003, Lee, et al. …

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