The health benefits of being active

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Doing regular physical activity prevents and treats many long-term conditions. Substantial health benefits are seen in adults who do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity, like brisk walking, per week. A regular ‘dose’ of activity is as effective as many current therapies used to treat long term conditions. In fact, if physical activity was a drug it would have wider benefits than any known medication to science and would be recommended to every child and adult. Encourage your patient to do a little more and live a longer, healthier life. To find out more about the science behind physical activity and health please visit the educational resource section for health care professionals.

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The relationship between physical activity and health 1

Disease Risk Reduction Strength of Evidence
Death 20-35% Strong
CHD & Stroke 20-35% Strong
Type2 Diabetes 35-50% Strong
Colon Cancer 30-50% Strong
Breast Cancer 20% Strong
Hip Fracture 36-68% Moderate
Depression 20-30% Strong
Alzheimer’s Disease 30% Moderate

In addition…

Regular physical activity also gives you more energy, builds confidence and can help you to sleep more soundly at night. You can combine your activity time with family and friends or use it as an opportunity to reflect on things or listen to your favourite music.

Source: Adapted from Department of Health and Human Services (2008) Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Report, Washington, DC: US Department of Health and Human Services. 1: Rimer J, Dwan K, Lawlor DA, Greig CA, McMurdo M, Morley W, Mead GE. Exercise for depression. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 7. Art. No.: CD004366. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004366.pub5. 2: Hambrecht R, Walther C, Mobius-Winkler S, et al. Percutaneous coronary angioplasty compared with exercise training in patients with stable coronary artery disease: a randomized trial. Circulation 2004; 109: 1371-78.

References:

  1. Start active; Stay active for health from the four home countries’ CMO, Department of Health, 2011. http://www.dh.gov.uk/prod_consum_dh/groups/dh_digitalassets/documents/digitalasset/dh_128210.pdf

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