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27 August 2012
Lack of exercise is a medical condition, says Mayo medico

What if a sedentary lifestyle were treated as a medical condition? Mayo Clinic physiologist Michael Joyner argues that it should be. "I would argue that physical inactivity is the root cause of many of the common problems that we have," Joyner says. "If we were to medicalize it, we could then develop a way, just like we've done for addiction, cigarettes and other things, to give people treatments, and lifelong treatments, that focus on behavioral modifications and physical activity."

There are several chronic medical conditions that are associated with poor capacity to exercise, including fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS - marked by an excessive heart rate and flu-like symptoms when exercising). Too often, says Joyner, medication rather than progressive exercise is prescribed.

If physical inactivity were treated as a medical condition itself rather than simply a cause or byproduct of other medical conditions, physicians may become more aware of the value of prescribing supported exercise, and more formal rehabilitation programs that include cognitive and behavioral therapy would develop, Joyner argues.

For those who have been sedentary and are trying to get into exercise, Joyner advises doing it slowly and progressively. "You just don't jump right back into it and try to train for a marathon," he explained. "Start off with achievable goals and do it in small bites." Joyner's commentary is published this month in The Journal of Physiology.

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Source: Mayo Clinic

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