Exercise should no longer be a mere “complement” or a standard recommendation within healthy lifestyle guidelines, say experts. Recent evidence confirms its physiological importance and endorses its beneficial and therapeutic effects on overall health, particularly in the case of obesity and its comorbidities. These findings emphasized the reasons to include exercise prescription in addressing this condition. This conclusion emerged from discussions among experts in Physical Activity and Sports Sciences during the XIX Congress of the Spanish Society for Obesity, where the role of physical exercise as a therapeutic strategy was analyzed from various perspectives.
Javier Butragueño, PhD, coordinator of the Exercise Working Group at the Spanish Society of Obesity, emphasized the need to “reposition” the role of exercise and the message conveyed to the population. “We must move beyond the typical recommendation to ‘just walk’ and rethink this message. When working with patients with obesity, you realize that, for example, the guideline of 10,000 steps per day makes little sense for those who weigh 140 kg, have been sedentary for a long time, and have not reached 2000 daily steps. Clinically, it becomes evident that current recommendations may not align with the needs of these patients,” he said.
Butragueño highlighted the necessity of shifting the central focus from weight-related variables alone. While weight is crucial, evidence suggests that it should be evaluated along with other strategies, such as nutrition and pharmacology.
“The approach must change to view exercise as a metabolism regulator,” said Butragueño. “For specialists, this means educating the population about the need to stay active for overall health. This is a disruptive message because the prevailing idea, almost obsessive, associates exercise primarily with weight loss, a completely incorrect approach that can even be detrimental in some cases.”
Butragueño emphasized the supportive role of physical exercise in interventions for these patients. “Data show that it is both an enhancer and a co-adjuvant in strategies that also include psychology and endocrinology. It should be part of the approach to obesity but individualized and phenotyped to give physical activity the necessary dimension in each specific case.”
As an example of this adaptability in therapeutic strategy, Butragueño referred to addressing binge eating disorder. “In this case, specialists must acknowledge that sports are a third-line option, always behind the psychologist, who plays a primary role. Exercise is used to enhance the emotions triggered through its practice, considering that many of these patients maintain a very negative relationship with their bodies.”
Spanish ‘Prescription Guide’
During his presentation, Butragueño introduced the positioning document from the Exercise Group of the Spanish Society of Obesity, which is aimed at designing physical activity programs for patients with obesity. He emphasized its importance as a much-needed effort at proposing intervention strategies to guide health professionals and establish a reference framework for collaboration across different approaches to obesity.
Among the noteworthy aspects of the guidelines outlined in this document, Butragueño highlighted the assessment and classification of physical activity into four levels based on each patient’s physical condition. “This aspect should be studied by the scientific community because ‘humanizing’ exercise prescription by understanding individuals’ needs beyond their BMI is crucial.”
He also discussed the strategy outlined in the document that he said is crucial for implementing an exercise program. “Essentially, it involves two guidelines: First, engage in physical activity for at least 30-60 minutes in what we call zone 2. This includes activities like walking, cycling, or rowing, where one can speak easily with another person or sing without getting out of breath. This is a fundamental part of addressing obesity, as it improves mitochondrial biogenesis, the correct utilization of fatty acids, which is a significant concern in the pathophysiology of obesity and other diseases like cancer.”
The second strategy involves strength training alone or combined with aerobic-cardiovascular exercise. “Studies show that just 20 minutes of strength training 1 day a week for 10 consecutive weeks significantly improves strength levels in sedentary individuals.”
Butragueño emphasized that to date, there is no doubt that the most effective approach is to combine strength exercises with cardiorespiratory exercises. “This is not only to address obesity but also because, beyond weight impact, this training has proven additional benefits, such as increased oxygenation and improved cognitive capacity.”
Finally, regarding the challenges this shift in focus poses for exercise specialists, Butragueño pointed out, “Synergies in obesity treatment require sports experts to receive training in other disciplines, elevating our knowledge level and communication with the medical community to emphasize that we are indeed talking about exercise physiology applied to a condition like obesity.”
“In addition, as scientists, we must challenge ourselves to disseminate information at the societal level, surpassing the typical and outdated message of ‘eat less and move more,’ which we know is incorrect. This simplistic formula doesn’t help many patients resolve their issues like fatty liver, diabetes, and other metabolic disorders,” he concluded.
Other topics debated during the congress included the importance of making exercise prescription a de facto reality in clinical practice and the challenge of achieving therapeutic compliance.
According to experts, one of the well-positioned trends in this regard is the concept of “active breaks” or “exercise snacks.” These breaks involve engaging in short-duration, moderate- to high-intensity activities throughout the day or working hours.
César Bustos, a board member of the Spanish Society of Obesity, mentioned that several studies have demonstrated that simple activities like climbing three flights of stairs or engaging in 1-minute training sessions can increase the metabolic equivalent of cardiovascular capacity and cardiorespiratory fitness. This approach could help reduce cardiovascular disease risk and all-cause mortality by 13%-15%.
“Cardiorespiratory fitness is the ability to engage in physical activity. It has been proven to be a more powerful predictor of mortality risk than traditional risk factors such as hypertension, smoking, obesity, hyperlipidemia, and type 2 diabetes,” said Bustos.
The expert added that these findings on the benefits of exercise snacks are particularly relevant in the current context, where lack of time is the primary obstacle cited by individuals with obesity for not engaging in regular physical activity. In addition, exercise prescription is considered the primary preventive measure for obesity and its associated diseases.
“Exercise is an essential complement to various treatments and strategies aimed at managing obesity and maintaining long-term weight reductions. However, patient compliance with recommended measures to stay active remains low. This deficiency can be overcome with the adoption of exercise snacks or small doses of exercise, which have become the most effective tool for achieving this goal,” he emphasized.
Also, in line with other experts, Bustos emphasized the importance of combined strength and cardiovascular training within the same session. “Undoubtedly, this is the most effective modality, as recent meta-analyses reflect. There is also a second effective modality for improving cardiometabolic parameters in patients with obesity: Hybrid training, including games, skipping ropes, and various devices.”
Exerkines and Poly Pills
Antonio García-Hermoso, PhD, a specialist in physical activity and sports at Navarrabiomed, University Hospital of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain, provided an update on the latest evidence regarding exerkines, which are molecules released during exercise. Research into these molecules attempts to analyze and understand the complex network of interactions between various exercise response systems.
García-Hermoso said that in the case of obesity and type 2 diabetes, research focuses on how exercise can affect patients’ exerkine levels and how these molecules can affect cardiometabolic control.
“The results demonstrate that these molecules are associated with multiple benefits, including improved insulin sensitivity and glucose homeostasis,” said García-Hermoso. “Concerning obesity, regular exercise has been shown to reduce interleukin-6 levels, positively affecting inflammation in these patients, also being associated with increased lipolysis and fatty acid utilization.”
García-Hermoso considered that studying exerkines supports the importance of individualized exercise prescription, like prescription of diet or medications.
He emphasized the importance of intensity, “which is even more crucial than the type of physical activity. Intense exercise activates physiological mechanisms, such as increased blood lactate levels, favoring the inhibition of ghrelin signaling associated with appetite. Therefore, higher exercise intensity leads to more lactate and greater inhibition of post-training hunger.”
“It is essential to understand that exercise is a poly pill with many advantages, and one of them is that even in small amounts, if intensity is increased, health benefits increase considerably,” García-Hermoso concluded.
Butragueño, Bustos, and García-Hermoso declared no relevant economic conflicts of interest.
This article was translated from the Medscape Spanish edition.
Source link : https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/how-prescribe-physical-activity-patients-obesity-2024a10002vo?src=rss
Publish date : 2024-02-09 05:56:44
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