Exercise as a Therapeutic Modality for Obesity

Obesity is a major public problem in western society. In 2003–2004, 67% of adults (20–74 years of age) were overweight (includes obese), of whom 34% were obese. The exact etiology of obesity still remains unclear. Many contributing factors have been studied including genetics, neuroendocrinology, energy intake, and energy expenditure. Aside from physical activity, treatments for obesity have involved dietary, psychological, pharmacological, surgical approaches. A more holistic approach has seemed to surface from a variety of these models.

Obesity has been linked to increased risk for development of hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes, coronary artery disease, and orthopedic injury. In addition, obese individuals often possess feelings of insecurity, decreased self-esteem, and negative social stigma. Obesity has been found to be related to recessed values of anaerobic threshold and aerobic capacity.

Exercise has been found to have many benefits in the treatment of obesity. When safety precautions are recognized, obese individuals can safely participate in an exercise program. Although exercise alone is probably insufficient to bring about significant fat loss, the combination of modest caloric restriction and physical training may be necessary to induce favorable changes in body composition. The addition of weight training to a weight loss program may also offer favorable effects for obese individuals. Regular exercise is one of the best predictors of weight maintenance.

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