Physical Activity and Public Health

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One of the greatest challenges for modern medicine is the rising prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The term NCDs refers to a group of conditions that lead to long-term health problems and are not caused by an acute infection. The major NCDs include diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, arthritis, depression and dementia. These diseases are very common, cause significant suffering and disability, and are very costly not only for the NHS but also for wider society.

Risk of developing many of these diseases can be reduced by adopting healthy behaviours including taking regular physical activity, eating a healthy diet, drinking alcohol in moderation and not smoking. If more people regularly adopted these behaviours, the burden of many of these diseases could be significantly reduced.

The aim of this module is to introduce some important ideas in public health about how to respond to these types of problem. This module focuses on one behaviour, physical activity, although many of the principles can be applied to other behaviours.

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