The beneficial effects of physical activity (PA) are well documented, yet the mechanisms by which PA prevents disease and improves health outcomes are poorly understood. To identify major gaps in knowledge and potential strategies for catalyzing progress in the field, the NIH convened a workshop in late October 2014 entitled "Understanding the Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms of Physical Activity-Induced Health Benefits." Presentations and discussions emphasized the challenges imposed by the integrative and intermittent nature of PA, the tremendous discovery potential of applying "-omics" technologies to understand interorgan crosstalk and biological networking systems during PA, and the need to establish an infrastructure of clinical trial sites with sufficient expertise to incorporate mechanistic outcome measures into adequately sized human PA trials. Identification of the mechanisms that underlie the link between PA and improved health holds extraordinary promise for discovery of novel therapeutic targets and development of personalized exercise medicine.
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