Physical Activity Promotion
There is no single answer. In the age of technology, fast food, and quick solutions, the battle is growing increasingly difficult. Schools are cutting physical education classes and eliminating or reducing recess so that children experience less physical activity than ever before. Without this structure, they lack the skills to participate and do not develop a sense of pleasure or satisfaction from physical activity. The habit of being sedentary continues into adulthood. Breaking this trend is increasingly difficult considering the low rates of physical activity in adults from whose examples children learn. As more experts consider physical inactivity to be an epidemic, a multifaceted approach is needed to change the tide. From governments to school districts, insurance companies to doctors, and parents to children, physical activity needs to be made a priority in all aspects of life.
Perhaps a change in focus is needed to improve physical activity levels. Beyond the physical benefits associated with physical activity, the mental benefits are also great. Studies show exercising at the recommended levels reduces depression in a dose-response manner.92,93 Chapter 9 details how physical activity impacts depression and stress. Self-efficacy is another important mental benefit. It is the confidence one has to complete tasks or engage in certain activities. Single bouts of exercise and long-term exercise programs have been shown to increase self-efficacy,94,95 and improved self-efficacy is a predictor of exercise adherence and increasing the amount of physical activity one completes.96,97
More success with physical activity is needed. The physical activity guidelines are clear; one needs to achieve 150 minutes/week of moderate physical activity. This goal can be accomplished through planning, habit formation, receiving social support, recognizing success, and feeling the confidence that comes with success. Rather than reaching for a 100-lb loss in 2 months, one needs to start small, achieve success, and feel better about one’s self and one’s ability to perform the activities. Also, more people need to understand that performing high-intensity training is unnecessary for health benefits but, rather, one can climb a few more stairs, sit an hour less in a day, walk the dog, mow the lawn, wash the car, etc, to better accomplish one’s physical activity for a day or a week. Lastly, research points to the importance of social support and having friends and family who have similar goals or are encouraging of the behavior change. Multiple types of social support were shown to increase physical activity levels in middle-aged adults.98 The benefits of success are evident and better than any pill could ever provide.
Bringing It Together
Physical activity beyond normal daily living is critical to the health of the human body. Many physiological adaptations occur in the body due to the added physical stress from activity and exercise. These adaptations are critical to combating chronic diseases that have plagued society for generations. The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines and the ACSM’s 2011 Guidelines for Physical Activity are based on a wealth of historical and current epidemiological evidence. The research findings paint a significant picture of the health benefits afforded by physical activity, which cannot be explained by chance or coincidence. The overwhelming significant evidence shown in a variety of populations concerning physical activity and a reduction in the risk of CHD, certain types of cancer, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, depression, and overall mortality should be enough to convince every American to improve his or her physical activity profile. Although the guidelines were established to encourage Americans to achieve the minimum amount of physical activity necessary to receive many health benefits, the evidence also shows that moderate physical activity greater than 300 minutes/week is related to greater benefits in a dose-response effect not completely understood. The guidelines of 150 minutes/week were established to provide Americans with the knowledge and understanding of the impact moderate physical activity can have on their overall health. As researchers continue to gather information regarding the benefits of physical activity on health, it is important to recognize and understand the vital role that epidemiological research plays in the development of professional and/or general public guidelines and policies. Without the strong work of the researchers and committees on gathering quality information over long periods of time, we may not have a full understanding of the benefits of physical activity on health.
However, with this knowledge and understanding of physical activity comes the responsibility of all health professionals to help the American population become more physically active.
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1. What are the 5 components of health-related physical fitness? Which is the most important to improve to reduce the risk of disease?
2. What is the difference between a dose response and a dose gradient?
3. What is the percentage of max HR that has to be achieved for a physical activity to be considered moderately intense?
4. List the adaptations that come from aerobic and resistance exercise.
5. Describe 2 ways researchers measure the amount of physical activity participants perform.
6. How does improved self-efficacy impact the promotion of physical activity?
7. In your own words, describe how the epidemiological evidence impacted the current Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
1. Calculate your target HR for moderate physical activity using the HRmax formula: 208 – (.7 x .60). What speed of walking or jogging do you think you would have to do to reach that HR? Do that pace for 10 minutes and record your 5- and 10-minute HRs. Were you correct about how intense moderate physical activity really is? How might what counts as moderate for different people change based on age, fitness, and experience with a particular exercise?
2. The American College of Cardiology recently developed a CVD risk calculator. Enter your data to determine your 10-year risk of a cardiac event. The tool is not valid for those younger than 40 years, but it will help you see what risk factors are important. You can find the calculator at, www.cvriskcalculator.com and an article on the debate of its use at, www.health.harvard.edu/ blog/cholesterol-guidelines-update-controversy-over-heart-risk-calculator-201311196886.
3. Use self-report questionnaires to find out the average amount of physical activity your friends and classmates are getting. There are several valid surveys available on the Internet, including the Godin Leisure-time Physical Activity Questionnaire, the International Physical Activity Questionnaire, and the Global Physical Activity Questionnaire. Be sure to carefully read the directions on how to transform these data into MET minutes/week.
4. How can you increase your daily physical activity considering your busy schedule? What barriers do you face? What strategies do you think those who are more physically active are using?
5. Based on the information in this chapter, briefly describe an epidemiological research study that you would begin in hopes of improving or adding to the information we have regarding physical activity and health.
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