[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 15-Nov-2010
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Contact: Annette Whibley
wizard.media@virgin.net
Wiley-Blackwell

Regular exercise reduces large number of health risks including dementia and some cancers

People who take regular exercise could reduce their risk of developing around two dozen physical and mental health conditions - including some cancers and dementia - and slow down how quickly their body deteriorates as they age.

An extensive research review, published in the December issue of IJCP, the International Journal of Clinical Practice, says that apart from not smoking, being physically active is the most powerful lifestyle choice any individual can make to improve their health.

Physiotherapist and lecturer Leslie Alford from the University of East Anglia reviewed 40 papers covering the latest international research published between 2006 and 2010.

"The literature reviewed shows that how long people live and how healthy they are depends on a complex mix of factors, including their lifestyle, where they live and even luck" says Mr Alford. "Individuals have an element of control over some of these factors, including obesity, diet, smoking and physical activity.

"Although the focus of my study was on men's health, the messages on physical activity are relevant to both sexes and all age groups."

Health benefits identified by the review include:

Recommendations identified by the review include:

"Ideally, to gain maximum health benefits people should exercise, not smoke, eat a healthy diet and have a body mass index of less than 25" says Mr Alford. "The more of these healthy traits an individual has, the less likely they are to develop a range of chronic disorders. Even if people can't give up smoking and maintain a healthy weight, they can still gain health benefits from increasing the amount of regular exercise they take.

"Physical inactivity results in widespread pathophysiological changes to our bodies. It appears that our bodies have evolved to function optimally on a certain level of physically activity that many of us simply do not achieve in our modern, sedentary lifestyles.

"What is clear from the research is that men and women of all ages should be encouraged to be more physically active for the sake of their long-term health."

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The paper, which appears in a special issue on Men's Health, can be accessed free at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1742-1241.2010.02478.x/pdf

A further five papers on men's health and an editorial can be accessed free at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ijcp.2010.64.issue-13/issuetoc

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