A higher effort-based paradigm in physical activity and exercise for public health: making the case for a greater emphasis on resistance training
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It is well known that physical activity and exercise is associated with a lower risk of a range of morbidities and all-cause mortality. Further, it appears that risk reductions are greater when physical activity and/or exercise is performed at a higher intensity of effort. Why this may be the case is perhaps explained by the accumulating evidence linking physical fitness and performance outcomes (e.g. cardiorespiratory fitness, strength, and muscle mass) also to morbidity and mortality risk. Current guidelines about the performance of moderate/vigorous physical activity using aerobic exercise modes focuses upon the accumulation of a minimum volume of physical activity and/or exercise, and have thus far produced disappointing outcomes. As such there has been increased interest in the use of higher effort physical activity and exercise as being potentially more efficacious. Though there is currently debate as to the effectiveness of public health prescription based around higher effort physical activity and exercise, most discussion around this has focused upon modes considered to be traditionally 'aerobic' (e.g. running, cycling, rowing, swimming etc.). A mode customarily performed to a relatively high intensity of effort that we believe has been overlooked is resistance training. Current guidelines do include recommendations to engage in 'muscle strengthening activities' though there has been very little emphasis upon these modes in either research or public health effort. As such the purpose of this debate article is to discuss the emerging higher effort paradigm in physical activity and exercise for public health and to make a case for why there should be a greater emphasis placed upon resistance training as a mode in this paradigm shift.
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