Sports Medicine: Promoting health and physical activity

We all know that exercise is good for you. Countless studies have confirmed the benefits of regular physical activity. With a global increase in in-activity and obesity rates and associated rising healthcare costs, it is now more important than ever to promote and incorporate physical activity into everyday life. Chapter 1 in the new edition of the Clinical Sports Medicine textbook, titled ‘Sports and exercise medicine: addressing the world’s greatest public health problem‘, tackles this weighty issue head on. The chapter presents the argument that physical fitness provides more health benefits than both smoking cessation and losing weight.

As chapter one states: ‘Physical activity was not a societal burden when survival depended on it.’ Let’s face it; a sedentary lifestyle is heavily encouraged by modern society. Consider the physical effort required to sit in front of an enormous television and buy your groceries online. What about the numerous over the counter type medications that can cure anything from a headache and muscle pain to high cholesterol? Becoming more active can improve these symptoms, but it requires effort.

Chapter 3, titled ‘Integrating evidence into clinical practice to make quality decisions,’ introduces readers to the concepts of evidence based practice, hierarchy of study designs, and levels of evidence. With a firm understanding of these concepts, clinicians can relay best research evidence, married with their clinical expertise, and help patients understand the importance of engaging in a healthy, active lifestyle. Quoting latest research findings can highlight the positive effects of physical activity. Take for example the paper by Professor Steve Blair titled: Physical inactivity: the biggest public health problem of the 21st century, which states:

‘There is now overwhelming evidence that regular physical activity has important and wide-ranging health benefits. These range from reduced risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers to enhanced function and preservation of function with age.’

Relaying such information to patients can help clinicians encourage patients to seek a more active management approach than a purely passive one such as taking medications alone. This will ultimately help in the fight against inactivity.

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