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The American Institute for Cancer Research AICR is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results.

AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review.

‘Exercise as medicine’ can help treat chronic diseases – if done properly - The Globe and Mail

AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Our planned giving staff is here to help you! Send us a note. We fund cutting-edge research and give people practical tools and information to help them prevent — and survive — cancer.

Physical Activity Fundamental To Preventing Disease

Donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. EIN Exercise also may lower the recurrence rate for those with breast cancer, in part by regulating hormone levels. And for virtually all cancer patients, it can lessen some side effects of treatment, including nausea and fatigue. Obesity is one of the leading causes of type 2 diabetes. Fitness also can play a major role in maintaining normal blood-glucose levels and reducing or postponing long-term cardiovascular complications.

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There's a discussion among 4 members. Press "Read Comments" to view. Leave A Comment Uh-oh! Besides fitness, other cardio-metabolic risk factors have also been found to improve during exercise therapy trials among high-risk or chronically ill individuals. Of particular importance is the finding from randomized controlled trials showing that exercise reduces visceral fat [ 13 ].

This is found even in the absence of changes in total body weight, as skeletal muscle mass often increases as a consequence of exercise training. When compared to pharmacological therapy, exercise usually has positive effects via many different mechanisms Fig. The possible overall strong health benefit of exercise therapy in the prevention and treatment of a disease seems to be the sum effect of long-term exercise mediated via different mechanisms. There is limited evidence from very long-term follow-up studies on the associations between baseline physical activity at a young age and health in later life.

Self-Management Education: Managing Chronic Conditions Beyond Medications

These athletes had lower need of hospital care in later life compared to controls who were in good health at a younger age. Also, the need of hospital care during the last year of life was reduced among those with a high physical activity level in middle age [ 15 ]. As all observational population follow-ups, this study also may include a genetic selection bias the same genetic factors may predispose individuals to high fitness and low risk of chronic disease; for more details, see later although the documentation on the long-term exercise history of former athletes can be regarded as rather reliable.

One way, at least in part, to tackle the genetic selection bias in long-term studies is to investigate twin pairs discordant for physical activity. For example, one such study with a year follow-up found evidence for the long-term benefits of physical activity vs. Among older people, in addition to preventing chronic diseases, the effects of physical activity on daily function become increasingly important see von Bonsdorff and Rantanen in this issue.

It has been shown that physical activity has an important role in the prevention of sarcopenia and osteopenia and in increasing maximal oxygen uptake, muscle strength, and balance in older people.

Resistance training – health benefits

To gain all these benefits, different types of training including aerobic, strength and balance training are recommended for older people [ 17 ]. Interestingly, evidence is also accumulating from both human and animal experiments to support the notion that physical activity is associated with improved cognitive function and that exercise training can improve many aspects of cognitive function [ 18 ]. On the one hand, RCTs with older people suggest that physical activity has beneficial effects among people with neurodegenerative disease [ 19 ] and depression [ 20 ].

Some animal experiments in turn show that it is likely that exercise-induced molecular and cellular changes explain improvements in cognitive function [ 18 ]. Genes are known to play a role in chronic disease predisposition as well as contribute to physical fitness levels, physical activity participation and ageing. DNA sequence-level differences have been thought to be responsible for constant predisposition to chronic diseases and physical activity during life course.

However, it is now known that the influence of the same sequence-level genetic variants on phenotype may differ by environment and by age. Gene—exercise interaction refers to a situation where the response or the adaptation to exercise is conditional on the individual's genotype. Also, studies in epigenetics suggest that changes in gene expression caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence may be inherited [ 21 ].

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These changes may remain through cell divisions and thus may be transferred down to succeeding generations. An interesting new area of research is telomeres, which are DNA—protein complexes capping chromosomal ends. At cellular divisions, telomeres tend to shorten if not properly counteracted by telomerase.

Telomere shortening may be associated with physical inactivity and chronic diseases [ 22 ].

Genetic influences play an important role in explaining individual differences in exercise participation and leisure time physical activity [ 23 , 24 , 25 ]. However, knowledge on the genes and DNA sequence variants that contribute to the genetic variance in physical activity or physical fitness is scarce [ 26 , 27 ].


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A simplified diagram showing how genetic pleiotropy may have an effect on the physical activity—morbidity relationship. This means that in observational studies the relationship between baseline activity and later occurrence of diseases may not be interpreted entirely as causal. Some evidence from studies on the interactions between metabolic disease risk genes and physical activity show that the effect of the risk allele is attenuated among physically active subjects see text.

Most of the genetic studies so far have focused on genes encoded by the nuclear genome. We need more large-scale studies on common and uncommon nuclear genome variants associated with both physical activity and chronic diseases, but also studies on mitochondrial genes as they may be related to aerobic fitness and metabolic disease development [ 35 ].

Not only the level of physical activity or cardio-metabolic risk factor levels but also responsiveness to exercise training is regulated by genes. Among other variables, this has been shown for physical fitness [ 36 ] and insulin sensitivity [ 37 ].