RISSANEN, A. and M. FOGELHOLM. Physical activity in the prevention and treatment of other morbid conditions and impairments associated with obesity: current evidence and research issues. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 31, No. 11, Suppl., pp. S635–S645, 1999.
Purpose: To evaluate the current status of knowledge concerning the effects of physical activity in the treatment and prevention of obesity- related problems, including cancers of the colon, breast, uterus, and prostate; gallstones; osteoarthritis; back pain; sleep apnea; reproductive abnormalities; and impaired health-related quality of life.
Design: A Medline literature search on the effects of physical activity in the above conditions was conducted. Only studies with some measure of weight and a description of the type of physical activity were included.
Results: No controlled randomized trials of exercise in the treatment of any of the studied conditions in obese patients were identified. Most of the epidemiologic studies reviewed were beset with severe methodological weaknesses. Most of the 18 studies on physical activity and colon cancer risk showed a protective effect that in some studies appeared to be greater than expected by weight loss alone. Some but not all studies of hormone-dependent cancers and gallstones showed a protective effect for physical activity. There were insufficient data on the role of exercise for the other morbid conditions studied.
Conclusion: The scarce data available on the role of physical activity in the prevention of obesity-related chronic conditions listed above suggest a protective role that needs to be examined further in studies with improved methodologies. Well-designed intervention trials are needed to assess the role of physical activity in the treatment and long-term outcome of obese patients with these co-morbid conditions.