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Tracking Down the Optimum Dose of Exercise

from The Pharmaceutical Journal

Forget laughter. And maybe even drugs. Exercise is the best medicine, or so many doctors say.

No other medical intervention can influence overall well-being as positively as physical activity. Countless epidemiological and clinical studies have demonstrated this, and now public health agencies around the globe — including the World Health Organization (WHO), the UK Chief Medical Officer and the US Department of Health and Human Services — are recommending that adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity (that which maintains an increased heart rate) or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity each week, or some combination thereof. An hour or more of daily exercise is suggested for children and adolescents.

These best-practice guidelines have been informed by a number of systematic reviews showing that a minimum threshold of aerobic activity leads to diverse benefits, including lowering the risks of heart problems, metabolic disorders, cancer, depression and other chronic diseases. Physical inactivity is estimated to be responsible for around 9% of premature deaths; eliminating this sedentariness could theoretically increase the life expectancy of the world’s population by around eight months.

"The evidence is overwhelming," says Gregory Heath, an exercise scientist at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Exercise is "one of the least appreciated, underused therapeutic tools available to the human race." more

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