Article

Physical Activity and Exercise

Jeffrey Hallam

in Public Health

ISBN: 9780199756797
Published online November 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0012
Physical Activity and Exercise

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Understanding the role of physical activity and exercise behavior is vitally important to the public’s health. While it could be argued that there was a fitness boom in the United States during the 1970s, the research shows that in 2010 a majority of children, adolescents, adults, and older adults did not engage in enough exercise and/or physical activity to gain health benefits. Indeed, the lack of exercise and physical activity is detrimental to health. Exercise is a health-directed behavior that is a subset of physical activity. People engage the structured and repetitive behavior that is exercise to gain health benefits and improve fitness. Physical activity is a broader term that describes a health-related behavior. For instance, a person may ride a bike for transportation to and from work and thus gain health benefits from engaging in the physical activity. The purpose of riding the bike is not directed at health but for transportation purposes and is considered physical activity. An understanding of this distinction is important for practitioners and researchers who are studying the roles of physical activity and exercise behavior in the public’s health. Exercise and physical activity psychology research and practice are in their infancy. Most of the earlier work focuses on exercise behavior and transitions to a focus on physical activity. This is a function of understanding of the roles of both physical activity and exercise and the epidemiological evidence that shows how few people engage in physical activity and exercise. The resources described in this section focus on the determinants and theories that best lend themselves to the development of effective intervention programs. There is a progression to exercise behavior research. First, it focused on describing the rates of physical activity and exercise, then, it observed the determinants of physical activity and exercise behavior, followed by the development of psychosocial-based interventions. Currently, it focuses on the development of environmental based (built, policy, and social) interventions.

Article.  5549 words. 

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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