Research Needed to Clarify the Physical Activity Message

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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The Journal of Physical Activity and Health seems likely to develop as a vehicle for practical, evidence-based answers to problems concerning physical activity and health, issues that have important implications for public health policy. There is strong epidemiological evidence for an association between the regular practice of physical activity and preventive or therapeutic benefit in a wide range of chronic health conditions,1-4 and already many professional groups have been eager to pre¬pare position statements, indicating their assessments of an appropriate minimum weekly dose of physical activity to maintain health.5 Unfortunately, there have been substantial discrepancies between successive recommendations, and uncertainties in the message are one probable factor, limiting its acceptance by both the general public and immediate health-care providers.6,7 The purpose of this brief commentary is to suggest some areas of investigation that would help in formulating a clear and consistent message. Topics discussed include the desired health outcome, the shape of the dose–response relationship, the impact of confounding variables, the quality of the evidence accepted, the basis for shaping the message, and the need for multiple messages.

The author is with the Faculty of Physical Education and Health, Graduate Dept of Exercise Sciences and the Dept of Public Health Sciences in the Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON Canada M5S 1A1.

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