Physical activity: the health benefits outweigh the risks

Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2004 Nov;7(6):641-7. doi: 10.1097/00075197-200411000-00009.


Purpose of review: This article will summarize the current findings on the effects of physical activity on human health and well-being.

Recent findings: Physical activity is associated with enhanced health and reduced risk of all-cause mortality such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, sarcopenia, cognitive disorders, and some forms of cancer. Nevertheless, the effects of exercise with respect to potential health consequences are complex. When untrained or previously sedentary persons undertake vigorous exertion suddenly, the undesired side effects of injuries, dehydration or cardiac arrest are amplified.

Summary: It is reasonable to conclude that the risk exposure through physical activity is outweighed by its overall benefits, and health authorities strongly encourage participation in moderate intensity physical activity on a daily basis. In the future, the identification and characterization of particularly inactive sub-groups of the population may facilitate and optimize the planning of public health interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology*
  • Chronic Disease / mortality
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors