Exercise Research: Exercise Recommendations

Exercise for patients with chronic disease: physician responsibility.

Painter P.
Department of Physiological Nursing, University of California at San Francisco, Box 0610 UCSF, 2 Koret Way, Room 605C, San Francisco, CA 94143-0610, USA. painter@itsa.ucsf.edu Curr Sports Med Rep. 2003 Jun;2(3):173-80.

Patients with chronic disease typically become severely deconditioned, which often leads to physical disability. Every effort should be made to recommend and encourage patients to adopt and maintain a program of physical activity. Although there are no specific exercise guidelines for many chronic conditions, patients should be instructed to start a routine of physical activity that is gradual for most (if not all) days of the week, working up to 30 minutes per session at an exertion level that is easily tolerated. It is critical that assessment of physical functioning and recommendations for physical activity be included as a part of routine medical care. In doing so, we change the expectations of patients and family members, and work toward optimizing physical functioning and quality of life.


Physical activity for the chronically ill and disabled.

Durstine JL, Painter P, Franklin BA, Morgan D, Pitetti KH, Roberts SO.
Department of Exercise Science, University of South Carolina, Columbia 29208,
USA. ldurstine@sophe.sph.sc.edu
Sports Med 2000 Sep;30(3):207-19
Erratum in: Sports Med 2001;31(8):627

Exercise prescription principles for persons without chronic disease and/or disability are based on well developed scientific information. While there are varied objectives for being physically active, including enhancing physical fitness, promoting health by reducing the risk for chronic disease and ensuring safety during exercise participation, the essence of the exercise prescription is based on individual interests, health needs and clinical status, and therefore the aforementioned goals do not always carry equal weight. In the same manner, the principles of exercise prescription for persons with chronic disease and/or disability should place more emphasis on the patient’s clinical status and, as a result, the exercise mode, intensity, frequency and duration are usually modified according to their clinical condition. Presently, these exercise prescription principles have been scientifically defined for clients with coronary heart disease. However, other diseases and/or disabilities have been studied less (e.g. renal failure, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, cerebral palsy). This article reviews these issues with specific reference to persons with chronic diseases and disabilities.


Physical activity, metabolic issues, and assessment.

Fernhall B, Unnithan VB.
Exercise Science Department, Syracuse University, 820 Comstock Avenue, Room 201, Syracuse, NY 13244, USA. Bfernhal@syr.edu Phys Med Rehabil Clin N Am. 2002 Nov;13(4):925-47.

Considering the important health consequences of physical activity and aerobic capacity, current guidelines recommend that all individuals should be physically active all or most days of the week. Relatively little is known about physical activity patterns or aerobic capacity of individuals who have disabilities, but existing data clearly show a disturbing pattern of low levels of physical activity and aerobic capacity in most, if not all, populations who have disabilities. More research is needed on all populations who have disabilities, not only documenting current levels of physical activity and aerobic capacity but also investigating potential strategies for improvement. Unfortunately, the techniques available for measuring physical activity have significant shortcomings. DLW shows considerable promise, but it is expensive and not appropriate for population studies. All other techniques have significant shortcomings in regard to tracking individual physical activity patterns, but they might provide valuable insight regarding group behavior. Although maximal exercise testing is the gold standard for measuring aerobic capacity, this technique is difficult to use in many populations that have disabilities. Few protocols have been validated for use with individuals who have disabilities, and indiscriminant use of protocols developed for nondisabled populations is inappropriate when testing individuals who have disabilities. Submaximal testing could be of considerable utility, but few protocols have been validated. For most populations that have disabilities, submaximal tests designed to predict VO2peak are not valid, given the altered disability-specific physiological responses, which usually result in gross overpredictions. Submaximal tests designed to compare (either intra or inter individual comparisons) physiological responses at predetermined submaximal work rates show considerable promise. Both populations of children who have disabilities that are discussed herein exhibit low levels of physical activity and aerobic capacity, which is consistent with most of the literature for any group that has disabilities. Although the mechanisms for producing lower levels of activity and aerobic capacity differ among children who have mental retardation and children who have CP, the outcome is similar in both populations. Appropriate testing methodology differs between these populations, and the different mechanisms involved demonstrate the disability-specific nature of research in children who have disabilities, which also illustrates the difficulty of producing general guidelines for exercise and physical activity interventions. Current data clearly show the need for improving both physical activity patterns and aerobic capacity in most children who have disabilities. Failure to accomplish this goal will ultimately have considerable negative health outcomes for individuals who have disabilities.