Exercise Pays Off in Long Run

Continued effects last for months after workouts end

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FRIDAY, Aug. 20, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- The effects of behavior modification programs designed to encourage physical activity last for at least three months after completion of such programs, says a new report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

The review of previous research found that no one specific behavioral intervention or setting was more effective than any other in encouraging people to exercise. Shorter, less-intensive programs were as successful as longer, more involved programs in modifying behavior change related to exercise.

Clinics, schools, community centers, child-care centers, exercise centers, churches, workplaces and participants' homes were the settings for these programs or interventions.

"This report provides good information about increasing physical activity through interventions delivered in a variety of settings," Dr. Carolyn M. Clancy, AHRQ director, said in a prepared statement.

"Hopefully, it will help us to identify programs that can lead to sustained behavior change," she added.

The report also found that exercise benefits cancer survivors. Exercise programs can improve their cardiopulmonary fitness, functional capacity, and quality of life during and after cancer treatment.

Exercise can also reduce symptoms of fatigue and symptoms of anxiety and depression during cancer treatment. The report noted exercise may provide other benefits to cancer patients, but there hasn't been enough research to confirm that.

"Regular physical activity is important for both lowering the risk for and managing multiple diseases, including some cancers. The more we understand about how to help people start and maintain exercise programs, the more we can help cancer survivors combat some of the early and late effects of cancer and its treatment," Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach, director of the U.S. National Cancer Institute, said in a prepared statement.

The NCI supported the AHRQ report.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about exercise.

SOURCE: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, news release, August 2004

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