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World Health Stat Q. 1988;41(3-4):242-50.

The role of physical activity in the prevention and treatment of noncommunicable diseases.

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Maternal and Child Health, World Health Organization, Geneva.


More and more people are turning to exercise as a means of achieving long-term health. The World Health Organization has endorsed this concept. The best available evidence suggests that an employee fitness programme will result in decreased health-care costs, decreased absenteeism and increased productivity for the employer. Regular physical activity is also associated with lower mortality rates. Appropriate physical activity may be a valuable tool in therapeutic regimens for the control and amelioration (rehabilitation) of cardiovascular disease, coronary artery disease, hypertension, congenital heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, obesity, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes mellitus, musculoskeletal disorders, end-stage renal disease, stress, anxiety and depression, etc. Regular physical activity, independent of other factors, reduces the probability of coronary artery disease and early death. Patients with risk factors for coronary artery disease need more intensive preexercise evaluation than those not a risk, and those with known or suspected cardiovascular disease need the most intensive evaluation and follow-up. Participation in vigorous sports activities, such as jogging, swimming, tennis, etc., helps to protect against the development of hypertension, even when other predisposing factors are present. Several studies have been conducted on the use of exercise in the treatment of hypertension. Physical exercise also contributes to the control of body weight. Consideration of the metabolic abnormalities in patients with type II (adult onset) diabetes indicates that they would make excellent candidates for an exercise programme. Osteoporosis is an important health problem for the elderly. The best treatment available at present is prevention, and a high level of physical activity throughout life can result in a larger skeletal mass during old age.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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