Increasing Physical Activity of High Intensity to Reduce the Prevalence of Chronic Diseases and Improve Public Health

Tommy Aune Rehn*, a, Richard A Winett b, Ulrik Wisløff a, Øivind Rognmo a
a K.G. Jebsen Center of Exercise in Medicine, Department of Circulation and Medical Imaging, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway
b Center for Research in Health Behavior, Psychology Department, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA 24060

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© Rehn et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the K.G. Jebsen Center of Exercise in Medicine, Department of Circulation and Medical Imaging, Faculty of Medicine, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, N-7491 Trondheim, Norway; Tel: +47 91709403; Fax: +47 7282 83 72; E-mail:


High incidence and prevalence of chronic diseases, increasing obesity and inactivity as well as rising health expenditure represent a set of developments that cannot be considered sustainable, and will have dire long-term consequences given the increasing proportion of elderly people in our society. Based on a review of the experiences from previous large scale population-based prevention programs and the documented effects of increased physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness on chronic diseases and its risk factors, we argue that increased physical activity, especially vigorous physical activity, is a major way to reduce the prevalence of chronic diseases and improve public health. We conclude that a coordinated population-based intervention program for improved health through increased physical activity in the entire population, with a special focus on high intensity exercise, urgently needs to be implemented nationally and internationally.

Keywords: Inactivity, physical activity, public health, overweight, intervention, prevention programmes, cardiorespiratory fitness, high intensity..