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Is Lack of Exercise a Medical Condition?

Wednesday, 15 August 2012 10:48 AM

Leading a sedentary, in active lifestyle raises the risk of obesity and a host of health conditions – from diabetes to heart disease to cancer. But should lack of exercise itself be treated as a medical condition? The answer, according to a prominent Mayo Clinic physiologist, is a resounding “Yes.”
In a commentary published this month in the Journal of Physiology, Dr. Michael Joyner argues that doctors should treat inactivity the same as smoking, drug abuse, drunk driving and other activities that pose a danger.
"I would argue that physical inactivity is the root cause of many of the common problems that we have," Joyner said. "If we were to medicalize it, we could then develop a way, just like we've done for addiction, cigarettes and other things, to give people treatments, and lifelong treatments, that focus on behavioral modifications and physical activity. And then we can take public health measures, like we did for smoking, drunken driving and other things, to limit physical inactivity and promote physical activity."
He noted physical inactivity affects the health not only of many obese patients, but also people of normal weight, such as workers with desk jobs, patients immobilized for long periods after injuries or surgery, and women on extended bed rest during pregnancies.
Prolonged lack of exercise can “decondition” the body, causing wide-ranging structural and metabolic changes such as excessive the heart rate increases during physical activity, weakening of bones and muscles, and declines in physical endurance and blood volume. When deconditioned people exercise, they may tire quickly and experience dizziness or other discomfort, then give up – making matters worse.
Several chronic medical conditions are associated with poor capacity to exercise, including fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and certain heart problems. Too often, medication rather than exercise is prescribed, Joyner said.
If physical inactivity were treated as a medical condition itself rather than simply a cause of other medical conditions, he said, physicians may become more aware of the value of prescribing exercise.
He added that there’s no need to join a gym or get a personal trainer. Building activity into daily life – taking brisk walks or even doing housework – can count toward the recommended 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity adults need.

© HealthDay

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Mayo Clinic report argues doctors should treat physical inactivity as a medical condition itself.
Wednesday, 15 August 2012 10:48 AM
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