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Proc Nutr Soc. 2009 Feb;68(1):29-33. doi: 10.1017/S0029665108008811. Epub 2008 Dec 1.

Conference on "Multidisciplinary approaches to nutritional problems". Symposium on "Performance, exercise and health". Exercise in improving health v. performance.

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  • 1Department of Exercise, Nutrition and Health Sciences, The University of Bristol, Bristol BS81TP, UK.


Regular and goal-appropriate exercise is critical to improving and maintaining both health and performance. However, the frequency, intensity, duration and type of activities needed to optimise health or achieve successful sports performance will differ considerably depending on an individual's goals and capabilities. Although sport is one of many forms of exercise that can be counted towards daily physical activity, participation in sport is not necessary to meet current physical activity recommendations. The current consensus is that the minimum amount of physical activity needed to improve and maintain good health is 30 min moderate-intensity activity/d on > or = 5 d/week. The evidence supporting this consensus is based on predominantly observational evidence that performing regular aerobic (endurance)-type physical activity is associated with reduced morbidity and premature mortality from CVD, CHD, stroke and colo-rectal cancer. The exact dose needed to improve health and the slope of the dose-response gradient between physical activity and mortality for various diseases are not known, and one major limitation of the existing evidence is the lack of objective measurement of physical activity. Limited evidence indicates that a much higher dose of activity (45-90 min each day on > or = 5 d/week) may be needed to prevent overweight and obesity and to avoid weight regain in previously overweight and obese individuals. The role of resistance training and heavy domestic work in reducing morbidity and premature mortality for various diseases is unclear. As most adults do not meet current recommendations there is a critical need for innovative approaches to increase physical activity across large-scale populations.

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