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Physical Activity to Prevent Chronic Diseases

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Physical activity is a key ingredient of 'healthy active ageing'. However, too many people have too little physical activity and this low level of participation in physical activity has dramatic effects on health and well-being. "Physical inactivity is estimated to account for nearly 600,000 deaths per year in the WHO European Region” (WHO/Europe report, 2010). Sufficient amount of physical activity is known to reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease, non-insulin-dependent diabetes, hypertension, some forms of cancer, musculoskeletal diseases, and psychological disorders. Physical activity also plays a key role in counteracting weight gain and obesity, reaching epidemic proportions and posing a global challenge to healthy ageing and public health. Researchers in the Center for Human Movement Sciences follow Nobel Prize winner Albert Szent-Györgyi’s prophecy that “Living systems are worn out by inactivity and promoted by use.” According to this concept, research focuses on the systematic and mechanistic demonstration of how physical activity and exercise promote health and well being from birth to old age and how “Exercise is Medicine” is a part of global disease prevention and treatment strategy. Multidisciplinary projects motivate children and adults to be physically active; combat the ill effects of being sedentary for prolonged periods; optimize interventions to delay the onset of weakness, fatigue, stress, pulmonary conditions, and muscle loss in old age, and to increase and capitalize on our understanding of how life-long physical activity and exercise improve and restore motor function.