Lack of engagement in physical activity is one of the principal threats to the health of populations of all age groups worldwide. While its relationship to common disorders such as obesity, type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and musculoskeletal diseases are well established, the magnitude of such associations and detailed dose-response relationships of different domains of physical activity remain less explored. Furthermore, the current understanding of factors that determine people’s engagement in physical activity and associated physical fitness and its importance in the prevention of poor mental health and cognitive function are still limited, particularly in young people.
Continuing to disentangle the ways in which physical activity affects population health and tackling population-wide inactivity and poor physical fitness via targeted health promotion, disease prevention and early detection is of major public health importance. If this fails, poor population health and its associated cost burden may compromise the future welfare of individuals and the healthcare budgets of societies.
The role of the Research Unit for Exercise Epidemiology (ExE) is twofold:
(i) to conduct large-scale epidemiological studies that aim to quantify and increase understanding of the importance of engaging in regular physical activity and limiting sedentary behaviors in the prevention of disease and the promotion of population health, and
(ii) to design effective preventive interventions and implementable solutions to improve aspects of the physical and mental health of child, adolescent and adult populations.
In fulfilling its role, the Research Unit has established a number of aims to guide its activities:
• To investigate the effect and population impact of physical activity and sedentary behaviors on health-related outcomes
• To investigate determinants and temporal time trends in physical activity, sedentary behaviors and physical fitness in populations
• To develop and evaluate interventions that promote physical activity and are beneficial for health-related outcomes
• To develop objective and subjective methods for the assessment of physical activity and sedentary behaviors for use in large-scale population-based studies
• To synthesize and summarize existing evidence of the role of physical activity and sedentary behaviors in health promotion and disease prevention that can be used to inform public health policy and practice