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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

A systematic review of the evidence for Canada's Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults

Darren ER Warburton12*, Sarah Charlesworth12, Adam Ivey12, Lindsay Nettlefold12 and Shannon SD Bredin3

Author Affiliations

1 Cardiovascular Physiology and Rehabilitation Laboratory, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

2 Experimental Medicine Program, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

3 Cognitive and Functional Learning Laboratory, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2010, 7:39  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-7-39

Published: 11 May 2010

Abstract

This systematic review examines critically the scientific basis for Canada's Physical Activity Guide for Healthy Active Living for adults. Particular reference is given to the dose-response relationship between physical activity and premature all-cause mortality and seven chronic diseases (cardiovascular disease, stroke, hypertension, colon cancer, breast cancer, type 2 diabetes (diabetes mellitus) and osteoporosis). The strength of the relationship between physical activity and specific health outcomes is evaluated critically. Literature was obtained through searching electronic databases (e.g., MEDLINE, EMBASE), cross-referencing, and through the authors' knowledge of the area. For inclusion in our systematic review articles must have at least 3 levels of physical activity and the concomitant risk for each chronic disease. The quality of included studies was appraised using a modified Downs and Black tool. Through this search we identified a total of 254 articles that met the eligibility criteria related to premature all-cause mortality (N = 70), cardiovascular disease (N = 49), stroke (N = 25), hypertension (N = 12), colon cancer (N = 33), breast cancer (N = 43), type 2 diabetes (N = 20), and osteoporosis (N = 2). Overall, the current literature supports clearly the dose-response relationship between physical activity and the seven chronic conditions identified. Moreover, higher levels of physical activity reduce the risk for premature all-cause mortality. The current Canadian guidelines appear to be appropriate to reduce the risk for the seven chronic conditions identified above and all-cause mortality.