Physical Activity and Well-being: A Review of the Health Benefits of Physical Activity on Health Outcomes

Abstract

Physical activity is emerging as an important modifiable disease risk factor in developing countries. This notwithstanding, the effects of physical activity on health outcomes remain incompletely understood; however there is ample evidence that physical activity is associated with low body weight and low fat mass. Furthermore, assessment of energy expenditure in free-living subjects is central to complete understanding of the aetiology of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease, and osteoporosis amongst other lifestyle-related disorders. Recent studies have indicated a clear epidemiological transition in disease profiles in Africans with an increasing prevalence in lifestyle related disorders such as obesity and related co-morbidities. There has also been a clear trend in these lifestyle disorders with the development of urbanization and consequently; adoption of Westernized lifestyles associated with decline in physical activity due primarily to mechanization/automation of occupational and leisure time activities. Furthermore, there is also developing interest in the concept of sedentary behaviour. It is now increasingly accepted that sedentary behaviour is not simply a lack of physical activity but is an independent behaviour (TV/computer use, reading, homework, etc.), which constitutes a potential risk to health irrespective of physical activity level. Current empirical evidence linking physical inactivity and health outcomes is substantial.

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