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Exercise And Obesity

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There is a growing understanding of how certain levels of physical activity may positively affect cardiovascular, musculosketetal, respiratory and endocrine function, as well as mental health (Kravitz, 2007). The Surgeon General's report (1996) on physical activity and health emphasizes that regular participation in moderate physical activity is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. Several studies (Haapanen et al, 1996, Lee et al, 1994) have shown that physical activity enhances health and reduces the risk for all-cause mortality and the development of many chronic diseases among adults. Exercise and physical activity has also been related to the reduction in mental health illnesses. An investigation by Hassmen et al (2000) found that individuals with improved levels of fitness are capable of managing stress more effectively than those who are less fit. Individuals who have clinical depression tend to be less active and healthy and have a reduced capacity for physical exertion (Fox 1999). In the past, patients diagnosed with depression have credited exercise as being an important element in comprehensive treatment programs for depression (Dunn 2002).

The American Academy of Pediatrics (2000) claim that the opportunity to be active on a regular basis, as well as the enjoyment and competence gained from activity, may increase the likelihood that a physically active lifestyle will be adopted.

While ever the U.K. is struggling to reduce the year-by-year increase in obesity prevalence. Education could defiantly help in the fight, Lavine & Ray (2006), found that Physical education teacher education made teachers more aware of their physical activity levels, meaning they could help enhance not only their own levels of activity but convey the importance of keeping an active lifestyle to students. “Fundamentally sound school health and physical education programs can foster healthy behaviours (McGinnis et al, 1991)”. Establishing healthy behaviours during childhood is easier and much more effective than trying to alter unhealthy behaviours during adulthood. Often childhood experiences can develop future sporting motives. ”As adults, we recall our past physical education experiences with widely differing responses. For some of us, memories are filled with a sense of enjoyment, achievement and pride, but for many others, it brings back feelings of humiliation, unpleasantness, and suffering (Fox, 1988a, p. 34)”. These negative childhood experiences relating to adult motivation for exercise participation have been the subject of investigation in recent times. Abbot (2006) found that improving the quality of adolescent experiences is likely to lead to increased motivation and participation in physical activity in adulthood. Cementing good experiences in sport at an early age is important for motivation.

“Schools could do more than perhaps any other single institution in society to help young people, and the adults they will become, to live healthier, longer, more satisfying, and more productive lives. (Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development, 2007)”. Statements like this should be considered with high regard if the government and the NHS are serious about reducing the obesity problem. As the obesity epidemic spirals out of control the government are producing litigation for schools so children lead more active lifestyles. This paper focuses upon the amount of exercise children need to stay healthy, the benefits of being healthy and the dangers to health that inactivity could induce.

Minimum amounts of exercise

The ACSM (2007) state that “To promote and maintain health, all healthy adults need to engage in moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity for a minimum of 30 min per day on 5 days a week or vigorous-intensity aerobic activity for a minimum of 20 min per day on 3 days a week.” Generally you would expect children to participate in more physical activity than adults. Children get more opportunities to participate in physical activity than adults, with a decline often seen after children leave school. In 2000, the US Department of Agriculture recommended that children and adolescents should participate in 60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity most days of the week, preferably daily. 30 minutes of this should be done in school time.

This recommendation is more than double that of the recommended allowance for adults.

Cardiovascular and resistance exercise seem to be equally effective in producing antidepressive effects (Brosse et al. 2002). The inclusion of resistance exercise and different modes of aerobic exercise in treatment programs should be encouraged.

It also appears that both acute exercise bouts and chronic exercise training programs have a positive effect on people with clinical depression (Dunn, 2002). The research does imply, though, that the greatest antidepressive effects seem to occur after 17 weeks of exercise, although observable effects begin after 4 weeks (Scully et al. 1998).

Exercise is not only beneficial for physical reasons, the following bulk of research, despite being slightly dated, suggests that exercise can decrease symptoms of depression (Martinsen & Morgan, 1997), assist in reducing anxiety (Raglin, 1997), increase self-mastery feelings (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,1996), help to be a buffer against stress (Roth & Holmes, 1985), and increase self-esteem (Sonstroem, 1997). However the Mental Health Foundation (2005) released a report that backs up the call for all patients with mild or moderate depression to be offered exercise therapy. Mounting evidence shows that a supervised programme’s of exercise prescription can be as effective as antidepressants in treating mild or moderate depression. However, GPs are still turning to antidepressants as their first-line treatment due to what they believe is a lack of available alternatives. The cost of antidepressant prescriptions in England has risen by more than 2000 % over the last twelve years. And whilst clinical guidelines promote the use of exercise for the treatment of depression, the mental health foundation report shows that only 5% of GPs use it as one of their three most common treatment responses. Such figures show the distinct lack of exercise education Gps have and their willingness to throw expensive prescription drugs at patients, despite the fact that exercise adoption and adherence has been proven to minimise the effects of certain mental health conditions, at a mere fraction of the cost. A study by Hansen et al (2001) that used 14 female college athletes aged 20 - 26 found that only 10 minutes of exercise



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