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WCPT congress: Prime time for physical guidance

22 June 2011 - 4:20pm

Physical therapists should be better represented in the global movement to produce guidance on physical activity, delegates at the World Confederation for Physical Therapy congress in Amsterdam heard this week.

Mark Tremblay, director of healthy active living and obesity research at the University of Ottawa in Canada, led one of the opening sessions at Congress 2011, on global physical activity transitions.

First WHO guidance

He said the issue of increasing activity levels to support better public health had ‘reached prime time,’ underlined by the publication in late 2010 of the first World Health Organization guidance for physical activity.

But he commented that physical therapists should be involved when physical activity guidance was being developed.

‘The global movement of physical activity guidance is under way,’ he said, ‘but in my experience physical therapists are not represented at the table.’

Sedentary behaviour

The gathered international delegates also heard about the global trend towards obesity and sedentary behaviour in high-income countries.

Mr Tremblay outlined examples of the societal and environmental factors contributing to what he termed ‘the transition to sedentary living’.

Outlining research showing ‘leisure’ to be the main form of activity for people in higher-income countries, he argued that in addition to guidance on physical activity, ‘incidental movements’ should not be ignored.

Bring back inconvenience

‘We have to consider the whole movement continuum,’ Mr Tremblay said. ‘Should a physical therapist be focusing on the 30 minutes of physical activity a day, when the rest of the time the patient is sitting down?’

Intervention possibilities existed around re-introducing ‘inconveniences’ into lifestyle choices again, when technology makes everything too simple, he said.

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