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1.  Muscle-Strengthening and Conditioning Activities and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: A Prospective Study in Two Cohorts of US Women 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(1):e1001587.
Anders Grøntved and colleagues examined whether women who perform muscle-strengthening and conditioning activities have an associated reduced risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
It is well established that aerobic physical activity can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D), but whether muscle-strengthening activities are beneficial for the prevention of T2D is unclear. This study examined the association of muscle-strengthening activities with the risk of T2D in women.
Methods and Findings
We prospectively followed up 99,316 middle-aged and older women for 8 years from the Nurses' Health Study ([NHS] aged 53–81 years, 2000–2008) and Nurses' Health Study II ([NHSII] aged 36–55 years, 2001–2009), who were free of diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases at baseline. Participants reported weekly time spent on resistance exercise, lower intensity muscular conditioning exercises (yoga, stretching, toning), and aerobic moderate and vigorous physical activity (MVPA) at baseline and in 2004/2005. Cox regression with adjustment for major determinants for T2D was carried out to examine the influence of these types of activities on T2D risk. During 705,869 person years of follow-up, 3,491 incident T2D cases were documented. In multivariable adjusted models including aerobic MVPA, the pooled relative risk (RR) for T2D for women performing 1–29, 30–59, 60–150, and >150 min/week of total muscle-strengthening and conditioning activities was 0.83, 0.93, 0.75, and 0.60 compared to women reporting no muscle-strengthening and conditioning activities (p<0.001 for trend). Furthermore, resistance exercise and lower intensity muscular conditioning exercises were each independently associated with lower risk of T2D in pooled analyses. Women who engaged in at least 150 min/week of aerobic MVPA and at least 60 min/week of muscle-strengthening activities had substantial risk reduction compared with inactive women (pooled RR = 0.33 [95% CI 0.29–0.38]). Limitations to the study include that muscle-strengthening and conditioning activity and other types of physical activity were assessed by a self-administered questionnaire and that the study population consisted of registered nurses with mostly European ancestry.
Our study suggests that engagement in muscle-strengthening and conditioning activities (resistance exercise, yoga, stretching, toning) is associated with a lower risk of T2D. Engagement in both aerobic MVPA and muscle-strengthening type activity is associated with a substantial reduction in the risk of T2D in middle-aged and older women.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Worldwide, more than 370 million people have diabetes mellitus, a disorder characterized by poor glycemic control—dangerously high amounts of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Blood sugar levels are normally controlled by insulin, a hormone released by the pancreas. In people with type 2 diabetes (the commonest form of diabetes), blood sugar control fails because the fat and muscle cells that normally respond to insulin by removing excess sugar from the blood become less responsive to insulin. Type 2 diabetes, which was previously known as adult-onset diabetes, can often initially be controlled with diet and exercise, and with antidiabetic drugs such as metformin and sulfonylureas. However, as the disease progresses, the pancreatic beta cells, which make insulin, become impaired and patients may eventually need insulin injections. Long-term complications of diabetes, which include an increased risk of cardiovascular problems such as heart disease and stroke, reduce the life expectancy of people with diabetes by about 10 years compared to people without diabetes.
Why Was This Study Done?
Type 2 diabetes is becoming increasingly common worldwide so better preventative strategies are essential. It is well-established that regular aerobic exercise—physical activity in which the breathing and heart rate increase noticeably such as jogging, brisk walking, and swimming—lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes. The World Health Organization currently recommends that adults should do at least 150 min/week of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic physical activity to reduce the risk of diabetes and other non-communicable diseases. It also recommends that adults should undertake muscle-strengthening and conditioning activities such as weight training and yoga on two or more days a week. However, although studies have shown that muscle-strengthening activity improves glycemic control in people who already have diabetes, it is unclear whether this form of exercise prevents diabetes. In this prospective cohort study (a study in which disease development is followed up over time in a group of people whose characteristics are recorded at baseline), the researchers investigated the association of muscle-strengthening activities with the risk of type 2 diabetes in women.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers followed up nearly 100,000 women enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study (NHS) and the Nurses' Health Study II (NHSII), two prospective US investigations into risk factors for chronic diseases in women, for 8 years. The women provided information on weekly participation in muscle-strengthening exercise (for example, weight training), lower intensity muscle-conditioning exercises (for example, yoga and toning), and aerobic moderate and vigorous physical activity (aerobic MVPA) at baseline and 4 years later. During the study 3,491 women developed diabetes. After allowing for major risk factors for type 2 diabetes (for example, diet and a family history of diabetes) and for aerobic MVPA, compared to women who did no muscle-strengthening or conditioning exercise, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes among women declined with increasing participation in muscle-strengthening and conditioning activity. Notably, women who did more than 150 min/week of these types of exercise had 40% lower risk of developing diabetes as women who did not exercise in this way at all. Muscle-strengthening and muscle-conditioning exercise were both independently associated with reduced diabetes risk, and women who engaged in at least 150 min/week of aerobic MVPA and at least 60 min/week of muscle-strengthening exercise were a third as likely to develop diabetes as inactive women.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that, among the women enrolled in NHS and NHSII, engagement in muscle-strengthening and conditioning activities lowered the risk of type 2 diabetes independent of aerobic MVPA. That is, non-aerobic exercise provided protection against diabetes in women who did no aerobic exercise. Importantly, they also show that doing both aerobic exercise and muscle-strengthening exercise substantially reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes. Because nearly all the participants in NHS and NHSII were of European ancestry, these results may not be generalizable to women of other ethnic backgrounds. Moreover, the accuracy of these findings may be limited by the use of self-administered questionnaires to determine how much exercise the women undertook. Nevertheless, these findings support the inclusion of muscle-strengthening and conditioning exercises in strategies designed to prevent type 2 diabetes in women, a conclusion that is consistent with current guidelines for physical activity among adults.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The US National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse provides information about diabetes for patients, health-care professionals and the general public, including information on diabetes prevention (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information for patients and carers about type 2 diabetes and explains the benefits of regular physical activity
The World Health Organization provides information about diabetes and about physical activity and health (in several languages); its 2010 Global Recommendations on Physical Activity for Health are available in several languages
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on physical activity for different age groups; its Physical Activity for Everyone web pages include guidelines, instructional videos and personal success stories
More information about the Nurses Health Study and the Nurses Health Study II is available
The UK charity Healthtalkonline has interviews with people about their experiences of diabetes
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources and advice about diabetes and about physical exercise and fitness (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC3891575  PMID: 24453948
2.  The effects of a home-based arm ergometry exercise programme on physical fitness, fatigue and activity in polio survivors: protocol for a randomised controlled trial 
BMC Neurology  2012;12:157.
Many Polio survivors have reduced mobility, pain and fatigue, which make access to conventional forms of aerobic exercise difficult. Inactivity leads to increased risk of health problems, many of which are prevalent among Polio survivors. Aerobic exercise programmes in Polio survivors should utilise stable muscle groups and should be designed to minimise exacerbation of pain and fatigue. A home-based arm ergometry aerobic exercise programme may represent an affordable and accessible exercise modality, incorporating exercise prescription principles in this group.
This is a prospective, single blinded, randomised controlled trial. There are two arms; exercise intervention using arm ergometers and control. Polio survivors meeting eligibility criteria will be recruited and randomly allocated to intervention or control groups. Participants allocated to the intervention group will receive a small arm ergometer and a polar heart rate monitor. They will carry out a home-based moderate intensity (50-70% HRMax) aerobic exercise programme for eight weeks, following instruction by the treating physiotherapist. Assessments will occur at baseline and after eight weeks and will include tests of physical fitness, activity, energy cost of walking, fatigue and quality of life. Clinically feasible assessment tools including the Six Minute Arm Test, the Physical Activity Scale for People with Physical Disabilities questionnaire, the Physiological Cost Index, Fatigue Severity Scale and the SF-36v2 will be utilised.
The efficacy of a home-based arm ergometry programme in Polio survivors will be examined. No previous trial has examined such a programme using a wide range of outcome measures pertinent to Polio survivors. This study will provide new information on the impact of arm ergometry on physical fitness, activity, body composition, fatigue, pain, muscle strength, and health related quality of life. Also, the study will provide information, which at present is lacking, on safety of aerobic exercise in Polio, as potential negative outcomes of activity including loss of muscle strength, increased pain and fatigue will be closely monitored.
Trial registration identifier: NCT01271530
PMCID: PMC3553047  PMID: 23234560
Poliomyelitis; Arm Ergometry; Physical fitness; Fatigue
3.  A best practice fall prevention exercise program to improve balance, strength / power, and psychosocial health in older adults: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial 
BMC Geriatrics  2013;13:105.
With increasing age neuromuscular deficits (e.g., sarcopenia) may result in impaired physical performance and an increased risk for falls. Prominent intrinsic fall-risk factors are age-related decreases in balance and strength / power performance as well as cognitive decline. Additional studies are needed to develop specifically tailored exercise programs for older adults that can easily be implemented into clinical practice. Thus, the objective of the present trial is to assess the effects of a fall prevention program that was developed by an interdisciplinary expert panel on measures of balance, strength / power, body composition, cognition, psychosocial well-being, and falls self-efficacy in healthy older adults. Additionally, the time-related effects of detraining are tested.
Healthy old people (n = 54) between the age of 65 to 80 years will participate in this trial. The testing protocol comprises tests for the assessment of static / dynamic steady-state balance (i.e., Sharpened Romberg Test, instrumented gait analysis), proactive balance (i.e., Functional Reach Test; Timed Up and Go Test), reactive balance (i.e., perturbation test during bipedal stance; Push and Release Test), strength (i.e., hand grip strength test; Chair Stand Test), and power (i.e., Stair Climb Power Test; countermovement jump). Further, body composition will be analysed using a bioelectrical impedance analysis system. In addition, questionnaires for the assessment of psychosocial (i.e., World Health Organisation Quality of Life Assessment-Bref), cognitive (i.e., Mini Mental State Examination), and fall risk determinants (i.e., Fall Efficacy Scale – International) will be included in the study protocol. Participants will be randomized into two intervention groups or the control / waiting group. After baseline measures, participants in the intervention groups will conduct a 12-week balance and strength / power exercise intervention 3 times per week, with each training session lasting 30 min. (actual training time). One intervention group will complete an extensive supervised training program, while the other intervention group will complete a short version ('3 times 3’) that is home-based and controlled by weekly phone calls. Post-tests will be conducted right after the intervention period. Additionally, detraining effects will be measured 12 weeks after program cessation. The control group / waiting group will not participate in any specific intervention during the experimental period, but will receive the extensive supervised program after the experimental period.
It is expected that particularly the supervised combination of balance and strength / power training will improve performance in variables of balance, strength / power, body composition, cognitive function, psychosocial well-being, and falls self-efficacy of older adults. In addition, information regarding fall risk assessment, dose–response-relations, detraining effects, and supervision of training will be provided. Further, training-induced health-relevant changes, such as improved performance in activities of daily living, cognitive function, and quality of life, as well as a reduced risk for falls may help to lower costs in the health care system. Finally, practitioners, therapists, and instructors will be provided with a scientifically evaluated feasible, safe, and easy-to-administer exercise program for fall prevention.
Trial registration Identifier: NCT01906034
PMCID: PMC3852637  PMID: 24106864
Seniors; Fall risk assessment; Resistance training; Postural stability
4.  Effects of Aerobic Exercise on Mild Cognitive Impairment 
Archives of neurology  2010;67(1):71-79.
To examine the effects of aerobic exercise on cognition and other biomarkers associated with Alzheimer disease pathology for older adults with mild cognitive impairment, and assess the role of sex as a predictor of response.
Six-month, randomized, controlled, clinical trial.
Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System clinical research unit.
Thirty-three adults (17 women) with amnestic mild cognitive impairment ranging in age from 55 to 85 years (mean age,70 years).
Participants were randomized either to a high-intensity aerobic exercise or stretching control group. The aerobic group exercised under the supervision of a fitness trainer at 75% to 85% of heart rate reserve for 45 to 60 min/d, 4 d/wk for 6 months. The control group carried out supervised stretching activities according to the same schedule but maintained their heart rate at or below 50% of their heart rate reserve. Before and after the study, glucometabolic and treadmill tests were performed and fat distribution was assessed using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. At baseline, month 3, and month 6, blood was collected for assay and cognitive tests were administered.
Main Outcome Measures
Performance measures on Symbol-Digit Modalities, Verbal Fluency, Stroop, Trails B, Task Switching, Story Recall, and List Learning. Fasting plasma levels of insulin, cortisol, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, insulinlike growth factor-I, and β-amyloids 40 and 42.
Six months of high-intensity aerobic exercise had sex-specific effects on cognition, glucose metabolism, and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and trophic activity despite comparable gains in cardiorespiratory fitness and body fat reduction. For women, aerobic exercise improved performance on multiple tests of executive function, increased glucose disposal during the metabolic clamp, and reduced fasting plasma levels of insulin, cortisol, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor. For men, aerobic exercise increased plasma levels of insulinlike growth factor I and had a favorable effect only on Trails B performance.
This study provides support, using rigorous controlled methodology, for a potent nonpharma-cologic intervention that improves executive control processes for older women at high risk of cognitive decline. Moreover, our results suggest that a sex bias in cognitive response may relate to sex-based differences in glucometabolic and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis responses to aerobic exercise.
PMCID: PMC3056436  PMID: 20065132
5.  Obesity and Physical Frailty in Older Adults: A Scoping Review of Intervention Trials 
Many frail older adults are thin, weak, and undernourished; this component of frailty remains a critical concern in the geriatric field. However, there is also strong evidence that excessive adiposity contributes to frailty by reducing the ability of older adults to perform physical activities and increasing metabolic instability. Our scoping review explores the impact of being obese on physical frailty in older adults by summarizing the state of the science for both clinical markers of physical function and biomarkers for potential underlying causes of obesity-related decline. We used the five-stage methodological framework of Arksey and O’Malley to conduct a scoping review of randomized trials of weight loss and/or exercise interventions for obesity (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2) in older adults (aged > 60 yrs), examining the outcomes of inflammation, oxidative stress, and lipid accumulation in muscle, as well as direct measures of physical function. Our initial search yielded 212 articles; exclusion of cross-sectional and observational studies, cell culture and animal studies, disease-specific interventions, and articles published before 2001 led to a final result of 21 articles. Findings of these trials included the following major points: The literature consistently confirmed benefits of lifestyle interventions to physical function assessed at the clinical level. Generally speaking, weight loss alone produced a greater effect than exercise alone and the best outcomes were achieved with a combination of weight loss and exercise, especially exercise programs that combined aerobic, resistance, and flexibility training. Weight loss interventions tended to reduce markers of inflammation and/or oxidative damage when more robust weight reduction was achieved and maintained over time, whereas exercise did not change markers of inflammation. However, participation in a chronic exercise program did reduce the oxidative stress induced by an acute bout of exercise. Weight loss interventions consistently reduced lipid accumulation in the muscle; however, in response to exercise, three studies showed an increase and two a decrease in muscle lipid infiltration. In summary, this scoping review identified strong clinical evidence that weight reduction and/or exercise interventions can improve physical function and biomarkers of physical dysfunction among overweight/obese older adults, supporting the suggestion that excessive adiposity contributes to physical frailty. However, the evidence also suggests a complexity of metabolic influences, both systemically and within muscle, which has not been elucidated to date. Considerable further study is needed to examine the mechanisms by which lifestyle interventions influence physical frailty before the net impact of such interventions can be fully understood.
PMCID: PMC4023554  PMID: 24445063
Obesity; frailty; older adults; physical function; inflammation; oxidative stress; muscle lipid infiltration
6.  Effect of intermittent aerobic exercise on sleep quality and sleep disturbances in patients with rheumatoid arthritis – design of a randomized controlled trial 
Poor sleep is prevalent in patients with systemic inflammatory disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis, and, in addition to fatigue, pain, depression and inflammation, is associated with an increased risk of co-morbidity and all-cause mortality. Whereas non-pharmacological interventions in patients with rheumatoid arthritis have been shown to reduce pain and fatigue, no randomized controlled trials have examined the effect of non-pharmacological interventions on improvement of sleep in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. The aim of this trial was to evaluate the efficacy of an intermittent aerobic exercise intervention on sleep, assessed both objectively and subjectively in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
A randomized controlled trial including 44 patients with rheumatoid arthritis randomly assigned to an exercise training intervention or to a control group. The intervention consists of 18 session intermittent aerobic exercise training on a bicycle ergometer three times a week. Patients are evaluated according to objective changes in sleep as measured by polysomnography (primary outcome). Secondary outcomes include changes in subjective sleep quality and sleep disturbances, fatigue, pain, depressive symptoms, physical function, health-related quality of life and cardiorespiratory fitness.
This trial will provide evidence of the effect of intermittent aerobic exercise on the improvement of sleep in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, which is considered important in promotion of health and well-being. As such, the trial meets a currently unmet need for the provision of non-pharmacological treatment initiatives of poor sleep in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
Trial registration Identifier: NCT01966835
PMCID: PMC3996065  PMID: 24559487
Sleep quality; Sleep disturbances; Fatigue; Polysomnography; Cardiorespiratory fitness; Intermittent training; Rheumatoid arthritis
7.  Effect of a Nutrition Supplement and Physical Activity Program on Pneumonia and Walking Capacity in Chilean Older People: A Factorial Cluster Randomized Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(4):e1001023.
Alan Dangour and colleagues report results from the CENEX (Cost-effectiveness Evaluation of a Nutritional supplement and EXercise program for older people) trial, which evaluates a nutritional and exercise program aiming to prevent pneumonia and physical decline in Chilean people.
Ageing is associated with increased risk of poor health and functional decline. Uncertainties about the health-related benefits of nutrition and physical activity for older people have precluded their widespread implementation. We investigated the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of a national nutritional supplementation program and/or a physical activity intervention among older people in Chile.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a cluster randomized factorial trial among low to middle socioeconomic status adults aged 65–67.9 years living in Santiago, Chile. We randomized 28 clusters (health centers) into the study and recruited 2,799 individuals in 2005 (∼100 per cluster). The interventions were a daily micronutrient-rich nutritional supplement, or two 1-hour physical activity classes per week, or both interventions, or neither, for 24 months. The primary outcomes, assessed blind to allocation, were incidence of pneumonia over 24 months, and physical function assessed by walking capacity 24 months after enrolment. Adherence was good for the nutritional supplement (∼75%), and moderate for the physical activity intervention (∼43%). Over 24 months the incidence rate of pneumonia did not differ between intervention and control clusters (32.5 versus 32.6 per 1,000 person years respectively; risk ratio = 1.00; 95% confidence interval 0.61–1.63; p = 0.99). In intention-to-treat analysis, after 24 months there was a significant difference in walking capacity between the intervention and control clusters (mean difference 33.8 meters; 95% confidence interval 13.9–53.8; p = 0.001). The overall cost of the physical activity intervention over 24 months was US$164/participant; equivalent to US$4.84/extra meter walked. The number of falls and fractures was balanced across physical activity intervention arms and no serious adverse events were reported for either intervention.
Chile's nutritional supplementation program for older people is not effective in reducing the incidence of pneumonia. This trial suggests that the provision of locally accessible physical activity classes in a transition economy population can be a cost-effective means of enhancing physical function in later life.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN 48153354
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
By 2050, about a quarter of the world's population will be aged 60 years or over, with Asia and Latin America experiencing the most dramatic increases in the proportion of older people. For example, in Chile, which has recently undergone rapid demographic transition, the proportion of the population aged 60 years or over has increased from 8% to 12% over the past 25 years.
Current global policy initiatives that promote healthy ageing include an emphasis on adequate nutrient intakes, as longitudinal studies (conducted in high-income countries) suggest that achieving nutritional sufficiency and maintaining moderate levels of physical activity both decrease risk of mortality by preserving immune function and lean body mass and so reduce the numerous risk factors for disability and chronic disease in later life. Such interventions may also decrease the risk of infection, particularly pneumonia, a common cause of death in older people. However, older people in low- and middle-income countries frequently have diets with insufficient calories (energy) and/or micronutrients.
Why Was This Study Done?
Currently, there is no high-quality evidence to support the benefits of improved nutrition and increased physical activity levels from low-income or transition economies, where the ongoing demographic trends suggest that the needs are greatest. National policies aimed at preserving health and function in older people with interventions such as cash-transfers and provision of “food baskets” are often used in Latin American countries, such as Chile, but are rarely formally evaluated. Therefore, the purpose of this study (the Cost-effectiveness Evaluation of a Nutritional supplement and EXercise program for older people—CENEX) was to evaluate Chile's national nutritional supplementation program and/or physical exercise, to investigate whether this program prevented pneumonia and physical functional decline in older people in Santiago, and also to investigate whether these interventions were cost-effective.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers randomly allocated 28 participating health centers in Santiago, Chile, into one of four arms: (1) nutritional supplementation; (2) nutritional supplementation+physical activity; (3) physical activity alone; (4) control. From May to December 2005, 2,799 eligible adults aged 65–67.9 years and living in low to middle socioeconomic circumstances, who attended each health center, were recruited into the study and received the allocated intervention—daily micronutrient-rich nutritional supplement, or two 1-hour physical activity classes per week, or both interventions or neither—for 24 months. The researchers did not know the allocation arm of each patient and over the course of the study assessed the incidence of pneumonia (viral and bacterial as based on diagnosis at the health center or hospital) and physical function was measured by walking capacity (meters walked in 6 minutes). The researchers used administrative records and interviews with staff and patients to estimate the cost-effectiveness of the interventions.
Participant retention in the study was 84%, although only three-quarters of patients receiving the nutritional intervention and less than half (43%) of patients in the physical activity intervention arm adhered to their respective programs. Over 24 months, the incidence rate of pneumonia did not differ between intervention and control groups (32.5 versus 32.6 per 1,000 person years, respectively), but at the end of the study period, there was a significant difference in walking capacity between the intervention and control clusters (mean difference 33.8 meters). The number of falls and fractures in the study arms were similar. The overall costs over 24 months were US$91.00 and US$163.70 per participant for the nutritional supplement and physical activity interventions, respectively. The cost of the physical activity intervention per extra meter walked at 24 months was US$4.84.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The results of this trial suggest that there is little evidence to support the effectiveness of Chile's national nutritional supplementation program in reducing the incidence of pneumonia for 65.0–67.9 year olds. Therefore, given Chile's high burden of infectious and nutrition-related chronic diseases and the associated high health costs, this program should not be considered as a priority preventive public health intervention. However, the provision of locally available physical activity classes to older people could be of clinical benefit, especially in urban settings such as Santiago, although future challenges include increasing the uptake of, and retention to, such programs.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The World Health Organization provides information about the state of health in Chile
Wikipedia also provides information about health and health care in Chile (please note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
PMCID: PMC3079648  PMID: 21526229
8.  Exercise training in childhood-onset systemic lupus erythematosus: a controlled randomized trial 
Exercise training has emerged as a promising therapeutic strategy to counteract physical dysfunction in adult systemic lupus erythematosus. However, no longitudinal studies have evaluated the effects of an exercise training program in childhood-onset systemic lupus erythematosus (C-SLE) patients. The objective was to evaluate the safety and the efficacy of a supervised aerobic training program in improving the cardiorespiratory capacity in C-SLE patients.
Nineteen physically inactive C-SLE patients were randomly assigned into two groups: trained (TR, n = 10, supervised moderate-intensity aerobic exercise program) and non-trained (NT, n = 9). Gender-, body mass index (BMI)- and age-matched healthy children were recruited as controls (C, n = 10) for baseline (PRE) measurements only. C-SLE patients were assessed at PRE and after 12 weeks of training (POST). Main measurements included exercise tolerance and cardiorespiratory measurements in response to a maximal exercise (that is, peak VO2, chronotropic reserve (CR), and the heart rate recovery (ΔHRR) (that is, the difference between HR at peak exercise and at both the first (ΔHRR1) and second (ΔHRR2) minutes of recovery after exercise).
The C-SLE NT patients did not present changes in any of the cardiorespiratory parameters at POST (P > 0.05). In contrast, the exercise training program was effective in promoting significant increases in time-to-exhaustion (P = 0.01; ES = 1.07), peak speed (P = 0.01; ES = 1.08), peak VO2 (P = 0.04; ES = 0.86), CR (P = 0.06; ES = 0.83), and in ΔHRR1 and ΔHRR2 (P = 0.003; ES = 1.29 and P = 0.0008; ES = 1.36, respectively) in the C-SLE TR when compared with the NT group. Moreover, cardiorespiratory parameters were comparable between C-SLE TR patients and C subjects after the exercise training intervention, as evidenced by the ANOVA analysis (P > 0.05, TR vs. C). SLEDAI-2K scores remained stable throughout the study.
A 3-month aerobic exercise training was safe and capable of ameliorating the cardiorespiratory capacity and the autonomic function in C-SLE patients.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC3672722  PMID: 23531226
9.  Randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effects of combined progressive exercise on metabolic syndrome in breast cancer survivors: rationale, design, and methods 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:238.
Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is increasingly present in breast cancer survivors, possibly worsened by cancer-related treatments, such as chemotherapy. MetS greatly increases risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, co-morbidities that could impair the survivorship experience, and possibly lead to cancer recurrence. Exercise has been shown to positively influence quality of life (QOL), physical function, muscular strength and endurance, reduce fatigue, and improve emotional well-being; however, the impact on MetS components (visceral adiposity, hyperglycemia, low serum high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, hypertriglyceridemia, and hypertension) remains largely unknown. In this trial, we aim to assess the effects of combined (aerobic and resistance) exercise on components of MetS, as well as on physical fitness and QOL, in breast cancer survivors soon after completing cancer-related treatments.
This study is a prospective randomized controlled trial (RCT) investigating the effects of a 16-week supervised progressive aerobic and resistance exercise training intervention on MetS in 100 breast cancer survivors. Main inclusion criteria are histologically-confirmed breast cancer stage I-III, completion of chemotherapy and/or radiation within 6 months prior to initiation of the study, sedentary, and free from musculoskeletal disorders. The primary endpoint is MetS; secondary endpoints include: muscle strength, shoulder function, cardiorespiratory fitness, body composition, bone mineral density, and QOL. Participants randomized to the Exercise group participate in 3 supervised weekly exercise sessions for 16 weeks. Participants randomized to the Control group are offered the same intervention after the 16-week period of observation.
This is the one of few RCTs examining the effects of exercise on MetS in breast cancer survivors. Results will contribute a better understanding of metabolic disease-related effects of resistance and aerobic exercise training and inform intervention programs that will optimally improve physiological and psychosocial health during cancer survivorship, and that are ultimately aimed at improving prognosis.
Trial registration
NCT01140282; Registration: June 10, 2010
PMCID: PMC3985576  PMID: 24708832
Exercise; Breast cancer; Metabolic syndrome
10.  Patient Activation through Counseling and Exercise – Acute Leukemia (PACE-AL) – a randomized controlled trial 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:446.
Patients with acute leukemia experience a substantial symptom burden and are at risk of developing infections throughout the course of repeated cycles of intensive chemotherapy. Physical activity in recent years has been a strategy for rehabilitation in cancer patients to remedy disease and treatment related symptoms and side effects. To date, there are no clinical practice exercise guidelines for patients with acute leukemia undergoing induction and consolidation chemotherapy. A randomized controlled trial is needed to determine if patients with acute leukemia can benefit by a structured and supervised counseling and exercise program.
This paper presents the study protocol: Patient Activation through Counseling and Exercise – Acute Leukemia (PACE-AL) trial, a two center, randomized controlled trial of 70 patients with acute leukemia (35 patients/study arm) following induction chemotherapy in the outpatient setting. Eligible patients will be randomized to usual care or to the 12 week exercise and counseling program. The intervention includes 3 hours + 30 minutes per week of supervised and structured aerobic training (moderate to high intensity 70 - 80%) on an ergometer cycle, strength exercises using hand weights and relaxation exercise. Individual health counseling sessions include a self directed home walk program with a step counter. The primary endpoint is functional performance/exercise capacity (6 minute walk distance). The secondary endpoints are submaximal VO2 max test, sit to stand and bicep curl test, physical activity levels, patient reported outcomes (quality of life, anxiety and depression, symptom prevalence, intensity and interference). Evaluation of clinical outcomes will be explored including incidence of infection, hospitalization days, body mass index, time to recurrence and survival. Qualitative exploration of patients’ health behavior and experiences.
PACE-AL will provide evidence of the effect of exercise and health promotion counseling on functional and physical capacity, the symptom burden and quality of life in patients with acute leukemia during out patient management. The results will inform clinical practice exercise guidelines and rehabilitation programs for patients undergoing treatment for acute leukemia. Optimizing the treatment and care pathway may ease the transition for patients from illness to the resumption of everyday activities.
Trial registration Identifier: NCT01404520.
PMCID: PMC3850718  PMID: 24083543
Acute leukemia; Cancer; Chemotherapy; Exercise; Health counseling; Physical and functional capacity; Quality of life; Symptoms; Outpatient management; Randomised controlled trial; Qualitative evaluation
11.  Aerobic neuromuscular electrical stimulation—an emerging technology to improve haemoglobin A1c in type 2 diabetes mellitus: results of a pilot study 
BMJ Open  2012;2(3):e000219.
A new generation of neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) devices can exercise aerobically at equivalent rates to voluntary exercise. Many with type 2 diabetes cannot or will not exercise sufficiently. The objective of this pilot investigation was to see (1) if it was an acceptable training modality for men with type 2 diabetes mellitus and (2) to assess effects on haemoglobin A1c levels.
Design, setting, participants and intervention
A case series of eight men with type 2 diabetes mellitus (aged 53±8; body mass index 32±5 5 kg/m2) trained with the NMES system for 1 h 6 times weekly for 8 weeks, unsupervised, at home. There were no other medication or lifestyle interventions. The aerobic NMES exercise system delivers a repeating set of four complex staggered pulses at high intensities (typically 100 mA+) through an array of eight thigh electrodes.
Outcome measures
The primary outcome measures were changes in haemoglobin A1c and the responses in a questionnaire on participants' perceptions of the system. Body mass and composition were also measured before and after the NMES intervention period.
All participants could use the system at a level that left them breathless and sweaty and with a heart rate over 120 beats per minute. Haemoglobin A1c levels improved by 0.8±0.7% from 7.4±1.3% (mean ± SD) to 6.6±1.0% (p=0.01). All participants considered the system suitable for people with diabetes, would recommend it and would continue to use it twice a week ‘to maintain improvements’.
These results suggest that aerobic NMES may be acceptable and have a beneficial effect on haemoglobin A1c of some men with diabetes. The treatment may be of particular benefit in those who will not or cannot do adequate amounts of voluntary exercise. A randomised control trial is required for conclusive efficacy data.
Article summary
Article focus
Advanced NMES techniques can now deliver aerobic exercise at training intensities. Improvements in aerobic fitness have been shown in the healthy, those with cardiac failure and the obese.
It was hypothesised that this could be of benefit to those with type 2 diabetes, particularly those with barriers to voluntary exercise.
A pilot study was undertaken to assess the system and its effects on HbA1c.
Key messages
All participants could use the system, unsupervised, at home, at intensities that made them sweaty and breathless.
Average improvement in HbA1c of 0.8 ± 0.7% (p=0.01) is consistent with exercise interventions.
The system may be an alternative for patients that will not or cannot undertake voluntary exercise.
Strengths and limitations of this study
The technology used is now well proven to have substantial aerobic training effects in other groups.
There were no other lifestyle interventions.
This is a small uncontrolled pilot study on a group of men who pro-actively volunteered for participation in an exercise programme. While the results are promising, it was not a randomised controlled trial, and the sample may not be representative of patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus.
PMCID: PMC3378935  PMID: 22700835
12.  Computerized Cognitive Training in Cognitively Healthy Older Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Effect Modifiers 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(11):e1001756.
Michael Valenzuela and colleagues systematically review and meta-analyze the evidence that computerized cognitive training improves cognitive skills in older adults with normal cognition.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
New effective interventions to attenuate age-related cognitive decline are a global priority. Computerized cognitive training (CCT) is believed to be safe and can be inexpensive, but neither its efficacy in enhancing cognitive performance in healthy older adults nor the impact of design factors on such efficacy has been systematically analyzed. Our aim therefore was to quantitatively assess whether CCT programs can enhance cognition in healthy older adults, discriminate responsive from nonresponsive cognitive domains, and identify the most salient design factors.
Methods and Findings
We systematically searched Medline, Embase, and PsycINFO for relevant studies from the databases' inception to 9 July 2014. Eligible studies were randomized controlled trials investigating the effects of ≥4 h of CCT on performance in neuropsychological tests in older adults without dementia or other cognitive impairment. Fifty-two studies encompassing 4,885 participants were eligible. Intervention designs varied considerably, but after removal of one outlier, heterogeneity across studies was small (I2 = 29.92%). There was no systematic evidence of publication bias. The overall effect size (Hedges' g, random effects model) for CCT versus control was small and statistically significant, g = 0.22 (95% CI 0.15 to 0.29). Small to moderate effect sizes were found for nonverbal memory, g = 0.24 (95% CI 0.09 to 0.38); verbal memory, g = 0.08 (95% CI 0.01 to 0.15); working memory (WM), g = 0.22 (95% CI 0.09 to 0.35); processing speed, g = 0.31 (95% CI 0.11 to 0.50); and visuospatial skills, g = 0.30 (95% CI 0.07 to 0.54). No significant effects were found for executive functions and attention. Moderator analyses revealed that home-based administration was ineffective compared to group-based training, and that more than three training sessions per week was ineffective versus three or fewer. There was no evidence for the effectiveness of WM training, and only weak evidence for sessions less than 30 min. These results are limited to healthy older adults, and do not address the durability of training effects.
CCT is modestly effective at improving cognitive performance in healthy older adults, but efficacy varies across cognitive domains and is largely determined by design choices. Unsupervised at-home training and training more than three times per week are specifically ineffective. Further research is required to enhance efficacy of the intervention.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
As we get older, we notice many bodily changes. Our hair goes grey, we develop new aches and pains, and getting out of bed in the morning takes longer than it did when we were young. Our brain may also show signs of aging. It may take us longer to learn new information, we may lose our keys more frequently, and we may forget people's names. Cognitive decline—developing worsened thinking, language, memory, understanding, and judgment—can be a normal part of aging, but it can also be an early sign of dementia, a group of brain disorders characterized by a severe, irreversible decline in cognitive functions. We know that age-related physical decline can be attenuated by keeping physically active; similarly, engaging in activities that stimulate the brain throughout life is thought to enhance cognition in later life and reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline and dementia. Thus, having an active social life and doing challenging activities that stimulate both the brain and the body may help to stave off cognitive decline.
Why Was This Study Done?
“Brain training” may be another way of keeping mentally fit. The sale of computerized cognitive training (CCT) packages, which provide standardized, cognitively challenging tasks designed to “exercise” various cognitive functions, is a lucrative and expanding business. But does CCT work? Given the rising global incidence of dementia, effective interventions that attenuate age-related cognitive decline are urgently needed. However, the impact of CCT on cognitive performance in older adults is unclear, and little is known about what makes a good CCT package. In this systematic review and meta-analysis, the researchers assess whether CCT programs improve cognitive test performance in cognitively healthy older adults and identify the aspects of cognition (cognitive domains) that are responsive to CCT, and the CCT design features that are most important in improving cognitive performance. A systematic review uses pre-defined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic; meta-analysis uses statistical methods to combine the results of several studies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 51 trials that investigated the effects of more than four hours of CCT on nearly 5,000 cognitively healthy older adults by measuring several cognitive functions before and after CCT. Meta-analysis of these studies indicated that the overall effect size for CCT (compared to control individuals who did not participate in CCT) was small but statistically significant. An effect size quantifies the difference between two groups; a statistically significant result is a result that is unlikely to have occurred by chance. So, the meta-analysis suggests that CCT slightly increased overall cognitive function. Notably, CCT also had small to moderate significant effects on individual cognitive functions. For example, some CCT slightly improved nonverbal memory (the ability to remember visual images) and working memory (the ability to remember recent events; short-term memory). However, CCT had no significant effect on executive functions (cognitive processes involved in planning and judgment) or attention (selective concentration on one aspect of the environment). The design of CCT used in the different studies varied considerably, and “moderator” analyses revealed that home-based CCT was not effective, whereas center-based CCT was effective, and that training sessions undertaken more than three times a week were not effective. There was also some weak evidence suggesting that CCT sessions lasting less than 30 minutes may be ineffective. Finally, there was no evidence for the effectiveness of working memory training by itself (for example, programs that ask individuals to recall series of letters).
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that CCT produces small improvements in cognitive performance in cognitively healthy older adults but that the efficacy of CCT varies across cognitive domains and is largely determined by design aspects of CCT. The most important result was that “do-it-yourself” CCT at home did not produce improvements. Rather, the small improvements seen were in individuals supervised by a trainer in a center and undergoing sessions 1–3 times a week. Because only cognitively healthy older adults were enrolled in the studies considered in this systematic review and meta-analysis, these findings do not necessarily apply to cognitively impaired individuals. Moreover, because all the included studies measured cognitive function immediately after CCT, these findings provide no information about the durability of the effects of CCT or about how the effects of CCT on cognitive function translate into real-life outcomes for individuals such as independence and the long-term risk of dementia. The researchers call, therefore, for additional research into CCT, an intervention that might help to attenuate age-related cognitive decline and improve the quality of life for older individuals.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Druin Burch
The US National Institute on Aging provides information for patients and carers about age-related forgetfulness, about memory and cognitive health, and about dementia (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website also provides information about dementia and about memory loss
MedlinePlus provides links to additional resources about memory, mild cognitive impairment, and dementia (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC4236015  PMID: 25405755
13.  Design of FitFor2 study: the effects of an exercise program on insulin sensitivity and plasma glucose levels in pregnant women at high risk for gestational diabetes 
Pregnancy is a period in the life of women that is often associated with decreased daily physical activity and/or exercise. However, maintaining adequate levels of daily physical activity during pregnancy is important for mother and child. Studies suggest that moderate daily physical activity and exercise during pregnancy are associated with reductions in the risk of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). However, at present, physical activity is not routinely advised to pregnant women at risk for gestational diabetes in the Netherlands. In FitFor2-study we aim to assess whether an exercise program can improve insulin sensitivity and fasting plasma glucose levels of women at high risk for gestational diabetes, assuming that this will lower their risk of gestational diabetes.
The FitFor2-study is a randomised controlled trial. Women who visit one of the participating hospitals or midwifery practices and who are at risk for gestational diabetes are eligible to participate. After baseline measurement they are randomly allocated to in the intervention or control group. The intervention group receives an exercise program twice a week in addition to usual care. The exercise program consist of aerobic and strength exercises and takes place under close supervision of a physiotherapist. Data are collected at 15, 24 and 32 weeks of pregnancy and 12 weeks after delivery. Primary maternal outcome measures are fasting plasma glucose and relative increase in insulin resistance. Primary neonatal outcome is birth weight. Secondary outcome measures are: maternal serum triglycerides, HDL, cholesterol, HbA1c, maternal weight gain during pregnancy, maternal physical activity level, foetal growth.
If the FitFor2 intervention program proves to be effective, obstetricians and midwives should refer women at risk for GDM to a special exercise program. Exercise programs for pregnant women under supervision of an experienced trainer are already available in the Netherlands, and these programs could be adjusted easily for this target group. Furthermore, the costs of these programs should be refunded by including them in the basic health care cost reimbursement schemes.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC2649039  PMID: 19123930
14.  A 3-Year Randomized Trial of Lifestyle Intervention for Cardiovascular Risk Reduction in the Primary Care Setting: The Swedish Björknäs Study 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(4):e5195.
Successfully transferring the findings of expensive and tightly controlled programmes of intensive lifestyle modification to the primary care setting is necessary if such knowledge is to be of clinical utility. The objective of this study was to test whether intensive lifestyle modification, shown previously in tightly-controlled clinical trials to be efficacious for diabetes risk-reduction among high-risk individuals, can reduce cardiovascular risk factor levels in the primary care setting.
Methodology / Principal Findings
The Swedish Björknäs study was a randomized controlled trial conducted from 2003 to 2006 with follow-up on cardiovascular risk factors at 3, 12, 24 and 36 months. A total of 151 middle-aged men and women at moderate- to high-risk of cardiovascular disease from northern Sweden were randomly assigned to either an intensive lifestyle intervention (n = 75) or control (n = 76) group. The intervention was based broadly on the protocol of the Diabetes Prevention Program. The three-month intervention period was administered in the primary care setting and consisted of supervised exercise sessions and diet counselling, followed by regular group meetings during three years. The control group was given general advice about diet and exercise and received standard clinical care. Outcomes were changes in anthropometrics, aerobic fitness, self-reported physical activity, blood pressure, and metabolic traits. At 36 months post-randomisation, intensive lifestyle modification reduced waist circumference (−2.2 cm: p = 0.001), waist-hip ratio (−0.02: p<0.0001), systolic blood pressure (−4.9 mmHg: p = 0.036), and diastolic blood pressure (−1.6 mmHg: p = 0.005), and improved aerobic fitness (5%; p = 0.038). Changes in lipid or glucose values did not differ statistically between groups. At 36 months, self-reported time spent exercising and total physical activity had increased more in the intervention group than in the control group (p<0.001).
Conclusion / Significance
A program of intensive lifestyle modification undertaken in the primary health care setting can favourably influence cardiovascular risk-factor profiles in high-risk individuals.
Trial Registration NCT00486941
PMCID: PMC2664964  PMID: 19365563
15.  Short-Term Aerobic Exercise Reduces Arterial Stiffness in Older Adults With Type 2 Diabetes, Hypertension, and Hypercholesterolemia 
Diabetes Care  2009;32(8):1531-1535.
The relationship between increased arterial stiffness and cardiovascular mortality is well established in type 2 diabetes. We examined whether aerobic exercise could reduce arterial stiffness in older adults with type 2 diabetes complicated by comorbid hypertension and hyperlipidemia.
A total of 36 older adults (mean age 71.4 ± 0.7 years) with diet-controlled or oral hypoglycemic–controlled type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and hypercholesterolemia were recruited. Subjects were randomly assigned to one of two groups: an aerobic group (3 months vigorous aerobic exercise) and a nonaerobic group (no aerobic exercise). Exercise sessions were supervised by a certified exercise trainer three times per week, and a combination of cycle ergometers and treadmills was used. Arterial stiffness was measured using the Complior device.
When the two groups were compared, aerobic training resulted in a decrease in measures of both radial (−20.7 ± 6.3 vs. +8.5 ± 6.6%, P = 0.005) and femoral (−13.9 ± 6.7 vs. +4.4 ± 3.3%, P = 0.015) pulse-wave velocity despite the fact that aerobic fitness as assessed by Vo2max did not demonstrate an improvement with training (P = 0.026).
Our findings indicate that a relatively short aerobic exercise intervention in older adults can reduce multifactorial arterial stiffness (type 2 diabetes, aging, hypertension, and hypercholesterolemia).
PMCID: PMC2713633  PMID: 19509011
16.  The efficacy of vigorous-intensity exercise as an aid to smoking cessation in adults with elevated anxiety sensitivity: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial 
Trials  2012;13:207.
Although cigarette smoking is a leading cause of death and disability in the United States (US), over 40 million adults in the US currently smoke. Quitting smoking is particularly difficult for smokers with certain types of psychological vulnerability. Researchers have frequently called attention to the relation between smoking and anxiety-related states and disorders, and evidence suggests that panic and related anxiety vulnerability factors, specifically anxiety sensitivity (AS or fear of somatic arousal), negatively impact cessation. Accordingly, there is merit to targeting AS among smokers to improve cessation outcome. Aerobic exercise has emerged as a promising aid for smoking cessation for this high-risk (for relapse) group because exercise can effectively reduce AS and other factors predicting smoking relapse (for example, withdrawal, depressed mood, anxiety), and it has shown initial efficacy for smoking cessation. The current manuscript presents the rationale, study design and procedures, and design considerations of the Smoking Termination Enhancement Project (STEP).
STEP is a randomized clinical trial that compares a vigorous-intensity exercise intervention to a health and wellness education intervention as an aid for smoking cessation in adults with elevated AS. One hundred and fifty eligible participants will receive standard treatment (ST) for smoking cessation that includes cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). In addition, participants will be randomly assigned to either an exercise intervention (ST+EX) or a health and wellness education intervention (ST+CTRL). Participants in both arms will meet 3 times a week for 15 weeks, receiving CBT once a week for the first 7 weeks, and 3 supervised exercise or health and wellness education sessions (depending on randomization) per week for the full 15-week intervention. Participants will be asked to set a quit date for 6 weeks after the baseline visit, and smoking cessation outcomes as well as putative mediator variables will be measured up to 6 months following the quit date.
The primary objective of STEP is to evaluate whether vigorous-intensity exercise can aid smoking cessation in anxiety vulnerable adults. If effective, the use of vigorous-intensity exercise as a component of smoking cessation interventions would have a significant public health impact. Specifically, in addition to improving smoking cessation treatment outcome, exercise is expected to offer benefits to overall health, which may be particularly important for smokers. The study is also designed to test putative mediators of the intervention effects and therefore has the potential to advance the understanding of exercise-anxiety-smoking relations and guide future research on this topic.
Clinical trials registry, NCT01065506,
PMCID: PMC3522063  PMID: 23148822
Smoking; Smoking cessation; Intervention; Randomized controlled trial; Exercise; Aerobic exercise; Anxiety; Anxiety sensitivity
17.  Promotion of the mind through exercise (PROMoTE): a proof-of-concept randomized controlled trial of aerobic exercise training in older adults with vascular cognitive impairment 
BMC Neurology  2010;10:14.
Sub-cortical vascular ischaemia is the second most common etiology contributing to cognitive impairment in older adults, and is frequently under-diagnosed and under-treated. Although evidence is mounting that exercise has benefits for cognitive function among seniors, very few randomized controlled trials of exercise have been conducted in populations at high-risk for progression to dementia. Aerobic-based exercise training may be of specific benefit in delaying the progression of cognitive decline among seniors with vascular cognitive impairment by reducing key vascular risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome. Thus, we aim to carry out a proof-of-concept single-blinded randomized controlled trial primarily designed to provide preliminary evidence of efficacy aerobic-based exercise training program on cognitive and everyday function among older adults with mild sub-cortical ischaemic vascular cognitive impairment.
A proof-of-concept single-blinded randomized trial comparing a six-month, thrice-weekly, aerobic-based exercise training group with usual care on cognitive and everyday function. Seventy older adults who meet the diagnostic criteria for sub-cortical ischaemic vascular cognitive impairment as outlined by Erkinjuntti and colleagues will be recruited from a memory clinic of a metropolitan hospital. The aerobic-based exercise training will last for 6 months. Participants will be followed for an additional six months after the cessation of exercise training.
This research will be an important first step in quantifying the effect of an exercise intervention on cognitive and daily function among seniors with sub-cortical ischaemic vascular cognitive impairment, a recognized risk state for progression to dementia. Exercise has the potential to be an effective, inexpensive, and accessible intervention strategy with minimal adverse effects. Reducing the rate of cognitive decline among seniors with sub-cortical ischaemic vascular cognitive impairment could preserve independent functioning and health related quality of life in this population. This, in turn, could lead to reduced health care resource utilization costs and avoidance of early institutional care.
Trial Registration Protocol Registration System: NCT01027858.
PMCID: PMC2830197  PMID: 20158920
18.  Effects of a physical activity behavior change intervention on inflammation and related health outcomes in breast cancer survivors: pilot randomized trial 
Integrative cancer therapies  2012;12(4):323-335.
Physical activity may provide benefits for breast cancer survivors in part by reducing systemic inflammation. Physical activity behavior change studies are a type of implementation research in which exercise efficacy information is translated into a “real world” setting, allowing determination of whether physical activity changes are sufficient to improve health outcomes. We hypothesized that breast cancer survivors (BCS) who undertook a physical activity behavior change intervention would have less systemic inflammation and improved cardiorespiratory fitness, muscle strength, body composition, fatigue, and sleep as compared with BCS receiving usual care. The goal of this pilot study was to determine the magnitude and direction of intervention effect sizes for inflammatory related serum markers and relevant health outcomes.
This randomized controlled trial enrolled 28 Stage I, II, or IIIA BCS who were post-primary treatment and were not regular exercisers. These women were assigned to either a 3-month physical activity behavior change intervention group (ING) or usual care group (UCG). Intervention included supervised aerobic (150 weekly minutes, moderate-intensity) and resistance (two sessions per week) exercise that gradually tapered to home-based exercise. At baseline and after 3 months, health outcomes and serum concentrations of interleukin (IL)-1 beta, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, leptin, and adiponectin were measured.
Cardiorespiratory fitness significantly improved in the ING versus UCG (between group difference=3.8 ml/kg/min; d=1.1; P=0.015). Self-reported sleep latency was significantly reduced in the ING versus UCG (between group difference=−0.5; d=−1.2; P=0.02) as was serum leptin (between group difference=−9.0 ng/ml; d=−1.0; P=0.031). Small to medium non-significant negative effect sizes were noted for IL-10 and TNF-alpha and ratios of IL-6:IL-10, IL-8:IL10, and TNF-alpha:IL-10, with non-significant positive effect sizes noted for IL-6 and high molecular weight adiponectin.
Physical activity behavior change interventions in BCS can achieve large effect size changes for several health outcomes. Although effect sizes for inflammatory markers were often small and not significant, changes were in the hypothesized direction for all except IL-6 and IL-10. These preliminary data support larger trials that would more fully examine potential inflammatory changes that accompany physical activity behavior change interventions.
PMCID: PMC3909487  PMID: 22831916
exercise; intervention; oncology; cytokine; inflammation; survivorship
19.  Cost-Effectiveness of Interventions to Promote Physical Activity: A Modelling Study 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(7):e1000110.
Linda Cobiac and colleagues model the costs and health outcomes associated with interventions to improve physical activity in the population, and identify specific interventions that are likely to be cost-saving.
Physical inactivity is a key risk factor for chronic disease, but a growing number of people are not achieving the recommended levels of physical activity necessary for good health. Australians are no exception; despite Australia's image as a sporting nation, with success at the elite level, the majority of Australians do not get enough physical activity. There are many options for intervention, from individually tailored advice, such as counselling from a general practitioner, to population-wide approaches, such as mass media campaigns, but the most cost-effective mix of interventions is unknown. In this study we evaluate the cost-effectiveness of interventions to promote physical activity.
Methods and Findings
From evidence of intervention efficacy in the physical activity literature and evaluation of the health sector costs of intervention and disease treatment, we model the cost impacts and health outcomes of six physical activity interventions, over the lifetime of the Australian population. We then determine cost-effectiveness of each intervention against current practice for physical activity intervention in Australia and derive the optimal pathway for implementation. Based on current evidence of intervention effectiveness, the intervention programs that encourage use of pedometers (Dominant) and mass media-based community campaigns (Dominant) are the most cost-effective strategies to implement and are very likely to be cost-saving. The internet-based intervention program (AUS$3,000/DALY), the GP physical activity prescription program (AUS$12,000/DALY), and the program to encourage more active transport (AUS$20,000/DALY), although less likely to be cost-saving, have a high probability of being under a AUS$50,000 per DALY threshold. GP referral to an exercise physiologist (AUS$79,000/DALY) is the least cost-effective option if high time and travel costs for patients in screening and consulting an exercise physiologist are considered.
Intervention to promote physical activity is recommended as a public health measure. Despite substantial variability in the quantity and quality of evidence on intervention effectiveness, and uncertainty about the long-term sustainability of behavioural changes, it is highly likely that as a package, all six interventions could lead to substantial improvement in population health at a cost saving to the health sector.
Please see later in the article for Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
The human body needs regular physical activity throughout life to stay healthy. Physical activity—any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that uses energy—helps to maintain a healthy body weight and to prevent or delay heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, and breast cancer. In addition, physically active people feel better and live longer than physically inactive people. For an adult, 30 minutes of moderate physical activity—walking briskly, gardening, swimming, or cycling—at least five times a week is sufficient to promote and maintain health. But at least 60% of the world's population does not do even this modest amount of physical activity. The daily lives of people in both developed and developing countries are becoming increasingly sedentary. People are sitting at desks all day instead of doing manual labor; they are driving to work in cars instead of walking or cycling; and they are participating less in physical activities during their leisure time.
Why Was This Study Done?
In many countries, the chronic diseases that are associated with physical inactivity are now a major public-health problem; globally, physical inactivity causes 1.9 million deaths per year. Clearly, something has to be done about this situation. Luckily, there is no shortage of interventions designed to promote physical activity, ranging from individual counseling from general practitioners to mass-media campaigns. But which intervention or package of interventions will produce the optimal population health benefits relative to cost? Although some studies have examined the cost-effectiveness of individual interventions, different settings for analysis and use of different methods and assumptions make it difficult to compare results and identify which intervention approaches should be give priority by policy makers. Furthermore, little is known about the cost-effectiveness of packages of interventions. In this study, the researchers investigate the cost-effectiveness in Australia (where physical inactivity contributes to 10% of deaths) of a package of interventions designed to promote physical activity in adults using a standardized approach (ACE-Prevention) to the assessment of the cost-effectiveness of health-care interventions.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers selected six interventions for their study: general practitioner “prescription” of physical activity; general practitioner referral to an exercise physiologist; a mass-media campaign to promote physical activity; the TravelSmart car use reduction program; a campaign to encourage the use of pedometers to increase physical activity; and an internet-based program. Using published data on the effects of physical activity on the amount of illness and death caused by breast and colon cancer, heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes and on the effectiveness of each intervention, the researchers calculated the health outcomes of each intervention in disability-adjusted life years (DALY; a year of healthy life lost because of premature death or disability) averted over the lifetime of the Australian population. They also calculated the costs associated with each intervention offset by the costs associated with the five conditions listed above. These analyses showed that the pedometer program and the mass-media campaign were likely to be the most cost-effective interventions. These interventions were also most likely to be cost-saving. Referral to an exercise physiologist was the least cost-effective intervention. The other three interventions, though unlikely to be cost-saving, were likely to be cost-effective. Finally, a package of all six interventions would be cost-effective and would avert 61,000 DALYs, a third of what could be achieved if every Australian did 30 minutes of physical activity five times a week.
What Do These Findings Mean?
As in all modeling studies, these findings depend on the quality of the data and on the assumptions included by the researchers in their calculations. Unfortunately, there was substantial variability in the quantity and quality of evidence on the effectiveness of each intervention and uncertainty about the long-term effects of each intervention. Nevertheless, the findings presented in this study suggest that the assessment of the cost-effectiveness of a combination of interventions designed to promote physical activity might provide policy makers with some guidance about the best way to reduce the burden of disease caused by physical inactivity. More specifically, for Australia, these findings suggest that the package of the six interventions considered here is likely to provide a cost-effective way to substantially improve the health of the nation.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The World Health Organization provides information about physical activity and health (in several languages); it also provides an explanation of DALYs
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on physical activity for different age groups and for health professionals
The UK National Health Service information source Choices also explains the benefits of regular physical activity
MedlinePlus has links to other resources about exercise and physical fitness (in English and Spanish)
The University of Queensland Web site has more information on ACE-Prevention (Assessing Cost-Effectiveness Prevention)
PMCID: PMC2700960  PMID: 19597537
20.  Feasibility of a multidimensional home-based exercise programme for the elderly with structured support given by the general practitioner's surgery: Study protocol of a single arm trial preparing an RCT [ISRCTN58562962] 
BMC Geriatrics  2009;9:37.
Physical activity programmes can help to prevent functional decline in the elderly. Until now, such programmes use to target either on healthy community-dwelling seniors or on elderly living in special residences or care institutions. Sedentary or frail people, however, are difficult to reach when they live in their own homes. The general practitioner's (GP) practice offers a unique opportunity to acquire these people for participation in activity programmes. We conceptualised a multidimensional home-based exercise programme that shall be delivered to the target group through cooperation between GPs and exercise therapists. In order to prepare a randomised controlled trial (RCT), a feasibility study is being conducted.
The study is designed as a single arm interventional trial. We plan to recruit 90 patients aged 70 years and above through their GPs. The intervention lasts 12 weeks and consists of physical activity counselling, a home-exercise programme, and exercise consultations provided by an exercise therapist in the GP's practice and via telephone. The exercise programme consists of two main components: 1. a combination of home-exercises to improve strength, flexibility and balance, 2. walking for exercise to improve aerobic capacity. Primary outcome measures are: appraisal by GP, undesirable events, drop-outs, adherence. Secondary outcome measures are: effects (a. motor tests: timed-up-and-go, chair rising, grip strength, tandem stand, tandem walk, sit-and-reach; b. telephone interview: PRISCUS-Physical Activity Questionnaire, Short Form-8 Health Survey, three month recall of frequency of falls, Falls Efficacy Scale), appraisal by participant, exercise performance, focus group discussion. Data analyses will focus on: 1. decision-making concerning the conduction of a RCT, 2. estimation of the effects of the programme, detection of shortcomings and identification of subgroups with contrary results, 3. feedback to participants and to GPs.
A new cooperation between GPs and exercise therapists to approach community-dwelling seniors and to deliver a home-exercise programme is object of research with regard to feasibility and acceptance. In case of success, an RCT should examine the effects of the programme. A future implementation within primary medical care may take advantage from the flexibility of the programme.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN58562962.
PMCID: PMC2753322  PMID: 19686587
21.  Exercise Training and Habitual Physical Activity A Randomized Controlled Trial 
Exercise training reduces adiposity and risk of cardiovascular disease. However, the combined effects of habitual free-living physical activity and aerobic training on waist circumference, weight, fitness, and blood pressure in postmenopausal women are unknown.
To evaluate the effects of habitual physical activity levels during aerobic training on weight, waist circumference, fitness, and blood pressure.
Secondary analysis of an RCT. Original data collected April 2001 to June 2005 and analyzed in 2012.
Postmenopausal women in a supervised exercise trial.
Women (n=325) were randomized to 4, 8, or 12 kcal per kg per week of aerobic training or a control group for 6 months. All outcome measures were collected at baseline and follow-up. Changes in dependent variables within each training group were evaluated across tertiles of pedometer-determined habitual physical activity outside exercise training sessions.
Main outcome measures
Changes in waist circumference and weight.
Reductions in waist circumference were significantly greater with higher steps/day accumulated outside exercise training compared to lower levels in the 4 (high: −4.8 cm vs low: −1.4 cm, p=0.03); 8 (high: −4.2 cm vs low: −0.4 cm, p=0.03), and 12 kcal per kg per week groups (high: −4.1 cm vs low: −0.7 cm, p=0.05). For all groups, p-trend < 0.03). A trend was observed for greater weight reduction with higher steps/day in the 4 kcal per kg per week group (p-trend= 0.04), but not for the other exercise doses. No effects were observed for blood pressure or fitness measures (all p>0.05).
In postmenopausal women, higher habitual physical activity while participating in aerobic training was associated with greater reductions in central adiposity, and was supportive of weight loss compared to lower levels.
PMCID: PMC3504348  PMID: 23159258
22.  Minimising disability and falls in older people through a post-hospital exercise program: a protocol for a randomised controlled trial and economic evaluation 
BMC Geriatrics  2009;9:8.
Disability and falls are particularly common among older people who have recently been hospitalised. There is evidence that disability severity and fall rates can be reduced by well-designed exercise interventions. However, the potential for exercise to have these benefits in older people who have spent time in hospital has not been established.
This randomised controlled trial will investigate the effects of a home-based exercise program on disability and falls among people who have had recent hospital stays. The cost-effectiveness of the exercise program from the health and community service provider's perspective will be established. In addition, predictors for adherence with the exercise program will be determined.
Methods and design
Three hundred and fifty older people who have recently had hospital stays will participate in the study. Participants will have no medical contraindications to exercise and will be cognitively and physically able to complete the assessments and exercise program.
The primary outcome measures will be mobility-related disability (measured with 12 monthly questionnaires and the Short Physical Performance Battery) and falls (measured with 12 monthly calendars). Secondary measures will be tests of risk of falling, additional measures of mobility, strength and flexibility, quality of life, fall-related self efficacy, health-system and community-service contact, assistance from others, difficulty with daily tasks, physical activity levels and adverse events.
After discharge from hospital and completion of all hospital-related treatments, participants will be randomly allocated to an intervention group or usual-care control group. For the intervention group, an individualised home exercise program will be established and progressed during ten home visits from a physiotherapist. Participants will be asked to exercise at home up to 6 times per week for the 12-month study period.
The study will determine the impact of this exercise intervention on mobility-related disability and falls in older people who have been in hospital as well as cost-effectiveness and predictors of adherence to the program. Thus, the results will have direct implications for the design and implementation of interventions for this high-risk group of older people.
Trial Registration
The protocol for this study is registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12607000563460.
PMCID: PMC2660334  PMID: 19245697
23.  Bariatric Surgery 
Executive Summary
To conduct an evidence-based analysis of the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of bariatric surgery.
Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of at last 30 kg/m2.1 Morbid obesity is defined as a BMI of at least 40 kg/m2 or at least 35 kg/m2 with comorbid conditions. Comorbid conditions associated with obesity include diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemias, obstructive sleep apnea, weight-related arthropathies, and stress urinary incontinence. It is also associated with depression, and cancers of the breast, uterus, prostate, and colon, and is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Obesity is also associated with higher all-cause mortality at any age, even after adjusting for potential confounding factors like smoking. A person with a BMI of 30 kg/m2 has about a 50% higher risk of dying than does someone with a healthy BMI. The risk more than doubles at a BMI of 35 kg/m2. An expert estimated that about 160,000 people are morbidly obese in Ontario. In the United States, the prevalence of morbid obesity is 4.7% (1999–2000).
In Ontario, the 2004 Chief Medical Officer of Health Report said that in 2003, almost one-half of Ontario adults were overweight (BMI 25–29.9 kg/m2) or obese (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2). About 57% of Ontario men and 42% of Ontario women were overweight or obese. The proportion of the population that was overweight or obese increased gradually from 44% in 1990 to 49% in 2000, and it appears to have stabilized at 49% in 2003. The report also noted that the tendency to be overweight and obese increases with age up to 64 years. BMI should be used cautiously for people aged 65 years and older, because the “normal” range may begin at slightly above 18.5 kg/m2 and extend into the “overweight” range.
The Chief Medical Officer of Health cautioned that these data may underestimate the true extent of the problem, because they were based on self reports, and people tend to over-report their height and under-report their weight. The actual number of Ontario adults who are overweight or obese may be higher.
Diet, exercise, and behavioural therapy are used to help people lose weight. The goals of behavioural therapy are to identify, monitor, and alter behaviour that does not help weight loss. Techniques include self-monitoring of eating habits and physical activity, stress management, stimulus control, problem solving, cognitive restructuring, contingency management, and identifying and using social support. Relapse, when people resume old, unhealthy behaviour and then regain the weight, can be problematic.
Drugs (including gastrointestinal lipase inhibitors, serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, and appetite suppressants) may be used if behavioural interventions fail. However, estimates of efficacy may be confounded by high rates of noncompliance, in part owing to the side effects of the drugs. In addition, the drugs have not been approved for indefinite use, despite the chronic nature of obesity.
The Technology
Morbidly obese people may be eligible for bariatric surgery. Bariatric surgery for morbid obesity is considered an intervention of last resort for patients who have attempted first-line forms of medical management, such as diet, increased physical activity, behavioural modification, and drugs.
There are various bariatric surgical procedures and several different variations for each of these procedures. The surgical interventions can be divided into 2 general types: malabsorptive (bypassing parts of the gastrointestinal tract to limit the absorption of food), and restrictive (decreasing the size of the stomach so that the patient is satiated with less food). All of these may be performed as either open surgery or laparoscopically. An example of a malabsorptive technique is Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB). Examples of restrictive techniques are vertical banded gastroplasty (VBG) and adjustable gastric banding (AGB).
The Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) Schedule of Benefits for Physician Services includes fee code “S120 gastric bypass or partition, for morbid obesity” as an insured service. The term gastric bypass is a general term that encompasses a variety of surgical methods, all of which involve reconfiguring the digestive system. The term gastric bypass does not include AGB. The number of gastric bypass procedures funded and done in Ontario, and funded as actual out-of-country approvals,2 is shown below.
Number of Gastric Bypass Procedures by Fiscal Year: Ontario and Actual Out-of-Country (OOC) Approvals
Data from Provider Services, MOHLTC
Courtesy of Provider Services, Ministry of Health and Long Term Care
Review Strategy
The Medical Advisory Secretariat reviewed the literature to assess the effectiveness, safety, and cost-effectiveness of bariatric surgery to treat morbid obesity. It used its standard search strategy to retrieve international health technology assessments and English-language journal articles from selected databases. The interventions of interest were bariatric surgery and, for the controls, either optimal conventional management or another type of bariatric procedure. The outcomes of interest were improvement in comorbid conditions (e.g., diabetes, hypertension); short- and long-term weight loss; quality of life; adverse effects; and economic analysis data. The databases yielded 15 international health technology assessments or systematic reviews on bariatric surgery.
Subsequently, the Medical Advisory Secretariat searched MEDLINE and EMBASE from April 2004 to December 2004, after the search cut-off date of April, 2004, for the most recent systematic reviews on bariatric surgery. Ten studies met the inclusion criteria. One of those 10 was the Swedish Obese Subjects study, which started as a registry and intervention study, and then published findings on people who had been enrolled for at least 2 years or at least 10 years. In addition to the literature review of economic analysis data, the Medical Advisory Secretariat also did an Ontario-based economic analysis.
Summary of Findings
Bariatric surgery generally is effective for sustained weight loss of about 16% for people with BMIs of at least 40 kg/m2 or at least 35 kg/m2 with comorbid conditions (including diabetes, high lipid levels, and hypertension). It also is effective at resolving the associated comorbid conditions. This conclusion is largely based on level 3a evidence from the prospectively designed Swedish Obese Subjects study, which recently published 10-year outcomes for patients who had bariatric surgery compared with patients who received nonsurgical treatment. (1)
Regarding specific procedures, there is evidence that malabsorptive techniques are better than other banding techniques for weight loss and resolution of comorbid illnesses. However, there are no published prospective, long-term, direct comparisons of these techniques available.
Surgery for morbid obesity is considered an intervention of last resort for patients who have attempted first-line forms of medical management, such as diet, increased physical activity, behavioural modification, and drugs. In the absence of direct comparisons of active nonsurgical intervention via caloric restriction with bariatric techniques, the following observations are made:
A recent systematic review examining the efficacy of major commercial and organized self-help weight loss programs in the United States concluded that the evidence to support the use of such programs was suboptimal, except for one trial on Weight Watchers. Furthermore, the programs were associated with high costs, attrition rates, and probability of regaining at least 50% of the lost weight in 1 to 2 years. (2)
A recent randomized controlled trial reported 1-year outcomes comparing weight loss and metabolic changes in severely obese patients assigned to either a low-carbohydrate diet or a conventional weight loss diet. At 1 year, weight loss was similar for patients in each group (mean, 2–5 kg). There was a favourable effect on triglyceride levels and glycemic control in the low-carbohydrate diet group. (3)
A decision-analysis model showed bariatric surgery results in increased life expectancy in morbidly obese patients when compared to diet and exercise. (4)
A cost-effectiveness model showed bariatric surgery is cost-effective relative to nonsurgical management. (5)
Extrapolating from 2003 data from the United States, Ontario would likely need to do 3,500 bariatric surgeries per year. It currently does 508 per year, including out-of-country surgeries.
PMCID: PMC3382415  PMID: 23074460
24.  Design and Implementation of a Home-Based Exercise Program Post-Hip Fracture: The Baltimore Hip Studies Experience 
The objectives are to describe for the first time a home-based exercise intervention for frail elderly hip fracture patients and to describe the feasibility of this exercise program.
A home-based exercise program was used in a randomized controlled trial in which the authors investigated exercise intervention versus no exercise intervention in patients after hip fracture.
This program was implemented at the patients’ own home or place of residence after discharge.
Women 65 years of age or older were recruited within 15 days of hip fracture. Eligible patients were those with a nonpathologic fracture who were admitted within 72 hours of injury, had surgical repair of the hip fracture, and met medical inclusion criteria. Participants initially were randomized to exercise groups and then assigned to exercise trainers.
The exercise contained strength training and aerobic components. Participants were expected to exercise 5 days per week by performing a combination of supervised and independently performed exercise sessions. Intensity and duration were increased gradually by trainers in a standardized way. The frequency of the supervised sessions decreased as participants became more independent. Treatment fidelity visits ensured that the intervention was being delivered as intended across trainers and across participants.
Main Outcome Measurement
This work describes the feasibility and challenges of administering an intensive home-based exercise program in this population of older adults.
Of those patients randomized to exercise, 82% were followed by a trainer and almost all advanced to higher levels in both aerobic and strength programs. Overall, participants received an average of 44 (78.5%) of the prescribed visits by the trainer.
This study showed that it was possible to engage a frail older population of post-hip fracture patients in a program of aerobic and strength training exercise with a high rate of participation.
PMCID: PMC3568511  PMID: 19627913
25.  Effect of Physical Inactivity on the Oxidation of Saturated and Monounsaturated Dietary Fatty Acids: Results of a Randomized Trial  
PLoS Clinical Trials  2006;1(5):e27.
Changes in the way dietary fat is metabolized can be considered causative in obesity. The role of sedentary behavior in this defect has not been determined. We hypothesized that physical inactivity partitions dietary fats toward storage and that a resistance exercise training program mitigates storage.
We used bed rest, with randomization to resistance training, as a model of physical inactivity.
The trial took place at the Space Clinic (Toulouse, France).
A total of 18 healthy male volunteers, of mean age ± standard deviation 32.6 ± 4.0 y and body mass index 23.6 ± 0.7 kg/m2, were enrolled.
An initial 15 d of baseline data collection were followed by 3 mo of strict bed-rest alone (control group, n = 9) or with the addition of supine resistance exercise training every 3 d (exercise group, n = 9).
Outcome measures:
Oxidation of labeled [d31]palmitate (the main saturated fatty acid of human diet) and [1-13C]oleate (the main monounsaturated fatty acid), body composition, net substrate use, and plasma hormones and metabolites were measured.
Between-group comparisons showed that exercise training did not affect oxidation of both oleate (mean difference 5.6%; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], −3.3% to 14.5%; p = 0.20) and palmitate (mean difference −0.2%; 95% CI, −4.1% to 3.6%; p = 0.89). Within-group comparisons, however, showed that inactivity changed oxidation of palmitate in the control group by −11.0% (95% CI, −19.0% to −2.9%; p = 0.01) and in the exercise group by −11.3% (95% CI, −18.4% to −4.2%; p = 0.008). In contrast, bed rest did not significantly affect oleate oxidation within groups. In the control group, the mean difference in oleate oxidation was 3.2% (95% CI, −4.2% to 10.5%; p = 0.34) and 6.8% (95% CI, −1.2% to 14.7%; p = 0.08) in the exercise group.
Independent of changes in energy balance (intake and/or output), physical inactivity decreased the oxidation of saturated but not monounsaturated dietary fat. The effect is apparently not compensated by resistance exercise training. These results suggest that Mediterranean diets should be recommended in sedentary subjects and recumbent patients.
Editorial Commentary
Background: Obesity is an important contributor to the burden of chronic diseases, particularly type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and stroke. Being inactive is a risk factor for all of these conditions. However, the physiological effects of inactivity are not well understood. In this trial, supported by the European Space Agency, a group of researchers aimed to further understand the effects of physical inactivity on the way that fat from the diet is metabolized (i.e., broken down to generate energy). 18 healthy male volunteers were randomized into two groups, both of whom underwent 90 days of bed rest, aiming to mimic sedentary behavior. One group also received an exercise training program during the 90 days' bed rest. The researchers examined to what extent two different types of fatty acids common in the diet were metabolized over the duration of the trial: oleate (monounsaturated fat) and palmitate (saturated fat). As secondary objectives of the study, body weight, water, fat, and energy expenditure were also examined in the participants.
What this trial shows: The researchers did not see any statistically significant changes between the groups—that is, participants receiving bed rest, and those receiving bed rest plus exercise training—for any of the primary or secondary outcomes, except for resting metabolic rate, which was higher in the exercise group. However, they did see physiologically relevant changes in fat metabolism of one of the fatty acids, palmitate, over the course of the trial within both groups studied. Although metabolism of oleate (monounsaturated fat) did not show significant changes over the course of the trial, metabolism of palmitate (saturated fat) dropped by nearly 10% in both groups (bed rest, and bed rest plus exercise).
Strengths and limitations: The study design was appropriate to the questions being posed, and the techniques for examining fat metabolism were relevant. Although the number of participants was very small, this problem is true of many such studies due to the cost and complexity of the interventions. The model for inactivity used in this trial—90 days' bed rest—is very extreme. Very few studies of this type have been performed, with most of the evidence relating to activity and fat handling coming from training studies in otherwise sedentary people.
Contribution to the evidence: It is already known that physical activity has numerous health benefits, including the prevention of obesity. This trial provides data showing that inactivity lowers the ability to metabolize fat, specifically saturated fat, from the diet, which would therefore be more likely to be stored in the body.
PMCID: PMC1584255  PMID: 17016547

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