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Regular Physical Activity: Forgotten Benefits

Key Message

Men and women who engage in regular physical activity experience statistically significant and clinically important reductions in the risk of dying from coronary heart disease, of developing diabetes, hypertension, and colon cancer. 

Source

Lewis, Steven F., and Hennekens, Charles H. (2015). Regular Physical Activity: Forgotten Benefits. The American Journal of Medicine. In Press. Available online 3 August 2015. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.amjmed.2015.07.016

Purpose

Both men and women who engage in regular physical activity experience statistically significant and clinically important reductions in the risk of dying from coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. Physical activity also reduces the risks of developing diabetes, hypertension, and colon cancer; enhances mental health; improves muscle, bone, and joint health, and helps maintain function and preserve independence in older adults.

Evidence

Both men and women who engage in regular physical activity experience statistically significant and clinically important reductions in the risk of dying from coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. Physical activity also reduces the risks of developing diabetes, hypertension, and colon cancer; enhances mental health; improves muscle, bone, and joint health, and helps maintain function and preserve independence in older adults. In fact, regular physical activity may ameliorate many of the emerging and increasingly prevalent clinical, public health, and fiscal challenges that accompany the “Graying of America.” For example, today, 24% of the US population is 50 years of age and over, and 17 million are aged between 75 and 85 years, a number estimated to grow to 30 million during the next 30 years. Brisk walking every day for only about 20 minutes, which can be practiced even among the oldest old, confers a 30%-40% reduced risk of myocardial infarction. In the US today, 18% of the gross national product of about $2.64 trillion is spent on health care, which is about double the proportion of other developed countries. Of that total, Medicare accounts for 21%, or $554 billion. Most alarmingly, of that total, 28%, or about $170 billion, is spent on health care during the last 6 months of life. In this context, it is important to note that physical inactivity accounts for about 2.4% of US health care expenditures, or approximately $24 billion a year.

Benefit Statements / Outcomes

Leadership Provided By:

  • Leisure Information Network (LIN)
  • Alberta Recreation and Parks Association

On Behalf Of:

  • Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRAA)

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