Move It or Lose It! - CHHM Researcher, Karim Khan, is the lead author for a major scientific paper on health benefits of everyday physical activity

Move It or Lose It! - CHHM Researcher, Karim Khan, is the lead author for a major scientific paper on health benefits of everyday physical activity

Dr. Karim Khan, Centre for Hip Health (CHHM) Core Research Member, is part of an international team of scientists to publish a paper titled “Sport and Exercise as Contributors to the Health of Nations” in The Lancet on Thursday, July 5 2012.  The paper examines whether sport and exercise specifically contribute to the health of nations; their conclusions - that there is strong evidence for physical activity as a major public health preventive approach and a potent medical therapy - are supported by data from large cohort studies that suggest low fitness is a greater risk for mortality than smoking, diabetes or obesity.  The researchers hope to link the interest in major sporting events, such as the upcoming London Summer Olympics, to their movement to get doctors to recognize exercise as a "fifth vital sign". The paper includes a call for action to get people to move it or lose it and concludes that the evidence for physical activity as a major public health preventive approach and "a potent medical therapy" has increased exponentially in the 64 years since London last hosted the Olympics.

Khan and colleagues from the U.S. and Australia state that exercise should be considered a risk factor for medical problems, so should be included along with temperature, blood pressure, pulse and respiratory rate as one of the key indicators of health.

In a recent CBC interview Khan said doctors can be key motivators in getting people active, and can help them put together an easy plan to fit in exercise. "Doctors are one element of getting people on a physical activity plan, but patients listen to doctors," he said. At the same time, "family doctors understand physical activity has a very powerful health benefit, but [people] don’t know how to fit it in. ... simple things like walking instead of taking transit, and walking the dog make a big difference."

Khan is a Sports Medicine Physician from Australia where he worked with several elite athletic organizations such as the Australian Ballet before being recruited to the University of British Columbia a decade ago. He is a founding member of the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility at VGH; his research on exercise as fall prevention in older people represents a move from a focus on clinical sports science towards ways to better implement physical activity as a health intervention.  In the accompanying Profile in the Lancet, Khan is quoted as saying, “The question of whether or not exercise is good for you has been answered, it undoubtedly is. Now the question is how do we get people to do it? How do we implement exercise at the community level and get more people moving?” Khan emphasises that an important message that needs to be better communicated from a public health point of view is, “that it’s the small things like walking to the bus and getting up from sitting that have a big benefit. We need to get away from the whole Lycra thing.”

To achieve heart, muscle and bone health, adults aged 18 to 64 should accumulate at least 150 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more. Children should aim for 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous-intensity activity daily. Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines

 

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Brian Lin, UBC Public Affairs
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