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      Systematic review of the health benefits of physical activity and fitness in school-aged children and youth

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          Abstract

          Background

          The purpose was to: 1) perform a systematic review of studies examining the relation between physical activity, fitness, and health in school-aged children and youth, and 2) make recommendations based on the findings.

          Methods

          The systematic review was limited to 7 health indicators: high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, the metabolic syndrome, obesity, low bone density, depression, and injuries. Literature searches were conducted using predefined keywords in 6 key databases. A total of 11,088 potential papers were identified. The abstracts and full-text articles of potentially relevant papers were screened to determine eligibility. Data was abstracted for 113 outcomes from the 86 eligible papers. The evidence was graded for each health outcome using established criteria based on the quantity and quality of studies and strength of effect. The volume, intensity, and type of physical activity were considered.

          Results

          Physical activity was associated with numerous health benefits. The dose-response relations observed in observational studies indicate that the more physical activity, the greater the health benefit. Results from experimental studies indicate that even modest amounts of physical activity can have health benefits in high-risk youngsters (e.g., obese). To achieve substantive health benefits, the physical activity should be of at least a moderate intensity. Vigorous intensity activities may provide even greater benefit. Aerobic-based activities had the greatest health benefit, other than for bone health, in which case high-impact weight bearing activities were required.

          Conclusion

          The following recommendations were made: 1) Children and youth 5-17 years of age should accumulate an average of at least 60 minutes per day and up to several hours of at least moderate intensity physical activity. Some of the health benefits can be achieved through an average of 30 minutes per day. [Level 2, Grade A]. 2) More vigorous intensity activities should be incorporated or added when possible, including activities that strengthen muscle and bone [Level 3, Grade B]. 3) Aerobic activities should make up the majority of the physical activity. Muscle and bone strengthening activities should be incorporated on at least 3 days of the week [Level 2, Grade A].

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          Most cited references87

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          Systematic reviews: synthesis of best evidence for clinical decisions.

          Systematic reviews can help practitioners keep abreast of the medical literature by summarizing large bodies of evidence and helping to explain differences among studies on the same question. A systematic review involves the application of scientific strategies, in ways that limit bias, to the assembly, critical appraisal, and synthesis of all relevant studies that address a specific clinical question. A meta-analysis is a type of systematic review that uses statistical methods to combine and summarize the results of several primary studies. Because the review process itself (like any other type of research) is subject to bias, a useful review requires clear reporting of information obtained using rigorous methods. Used increasingly to inform medical decision making, plan future research agendas, and establish clinical policy, systematic reviews may strengthen the link between best research evidence and optimal health care.
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            A systematic review of the evidence for Canada's Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults

            This systematic review examines critically the scientific basis for Canada's Physical Activity Guide for Healthy Active Living for adults. Particular reference is given to the dose-response relationship between physical activity and premature all-cause mortality and seven chronic diseases (cardiovascular disease, stroke, hypertension, colon cancer, breast cancer, type 2 diabetes (diabetes mellitus) and osteoporosis). The strength of the relationship between physical activity and specific health outcomes is evaluated critically. Literature was obtained through searching electronic databases (e.g., MEDLINE, EMBASE), cross-referencing, and through the authors' knowledge of the area. For inclusion in our systematic review articles must have at least 3 levels of physical activity and the concomitant risk for each chronic disease. The quality of included studies was appraised using a modified Downs and Black tool. Through this search we identified a total of 254 articles that met the eligibility criteria related to premature all-cause mortality (N = 70), cardiovascular disease (N = 49), stroke (N = 25), hypertension (N = 12), colon cancer (N = 33), breast cancer (N = 43), type 2 diabetes (N = 20), and osteoporosis (N = 2). Overall, the current literature supports clearly the dose-response relationship between physical activity and the seven chronic conditions identified. Moreover, higher levels of physical activity reduce the risk for premature all-cause mortality. The current Canadian guidelines appear to be appropriate to reduce the risk for the seven chronic conditions identified above and all-cause mortality.
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              Physical activity and functional limitations in older adults: a systematic review related to Canada's Physical Activity Guidelines

              Background The purpose was to conduct systematic reviews of the relationship between physical activity of healthy community-dwelling older (>65 years) adults and outcomes of functional limitations, disability, or loss of independence. Methods Prospective cohort studies with an outcome related to functional independence or to cognitive function were searched, as well as exercise training interventions that reported a functional outcome. Electronic database search strategies were used to identify citations which were screened (title and abstract) for inclusion. Included articles were reviewed to complete standardized data extraction tables, and assess study quality. An established system of assessing the level and grade of evidence for recommendations was employed. Results Sixty-six studies met inclusion criteria for the relationship between physical activity and functional independence, and 34 were included with a cognitive function outcome. Greater physical activity of an aerobic nature (categorized by a variety of methods) was associated with higher functional status (expressed by a host of outcome measures) in older age. For functional independence, moderate (and high) levels of physical activity appeared effective in conferring a reduced risk (odds ratio ~0.5) of functional limitations or disability. Limitation in higher level performance outcomes was reduced (odds ratio ~0.5) with vigorous (or high) activity with an apparent dose-response of moderate through to high activity. Exercise training interventions (including aerobic and resistance) of older adults showed improvement in physiological and functional measures, and suggestion of longer-term reduction in incidence of mobility disability. A relatively high level of physical activity was related to better cognitive function and reduced risk of developing dementia; however, there were mixed results of the effects of exercise interventions on cognitive function indices. Conclusions There is a consistency of findings across studies and a range of outcome measures related to functional independence; regular aerobic activity and short-term exercise programmes confer a reduced risk of functional limitations and disability in older age. Although a precise characterization of a minimal or effective physical activity dose to maintain functional independence is difficult, it appears moderate to higher levels of activity are effective and there may be a threshold of at least moderate activity for significant outcomes.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act
                The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
                BioMed Central
                1479-5868
                2010
                11 May 2010
                : 7
                : 40
                Affiliations
                [1 ]School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
                [2 ]Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
                Article
                1479-5868-7-40
                10.1186/1479-5868-7-40
                2885312
                20459784
                5a6c26ee-62c2-4580-a170-df7d9e138d5d
                Copyright ©2010 Janssen and LeBlanc; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Categories
                Review

                Nutrition & Dietetics
                Nutrition & Dietetics

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