Schulz KH, Heesen C.

Epidemiologic studies increasingly have demonstrated a correlation between physical inactivity and certain chronic diseases. Already in the 1970s exercise programs for cardiovascular patients were established, whereas in other severe chronic illnesses such as breast cancer or multiple sclerosis exposure to physical stress seemed to be a contraindication. Today there is a grow ing body of evidence demonstrating positive physical as well as psychic effects of exercise training in patients with these diseases. These studies are summarized and complementary studies of our group are described in more detail. In patients with breast cancer we were able to demonstrate persistent psychosocial effects even 1 year after completion of the training program. In patients with multiple sclerosis we could confirm an induction of neurotrophic factors in trained individuals. Correspondingly, there is accumulating evidence showing positive effects of exercise on cognitive function, especially in the aged. Potential pathophysiological pathways regarding a progression to dementia are presented. Consequently exercise programs could play a pivotal role in the prevention and therapy of the cognitive decline in the aged in an aging society.

Bundesgesundheitsblatt Gesundheitsforschung Gesundheitsschutz 2005;48:906-13.

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