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This week: Call for physical activity targets to optimise mental health • Fitness Australia announce new additions to Board of Directors • Teens with heart disease improve exercise capacity

Call for physical activity targets to optimise mental health

Global physical activity guidelines should be extended to ensure they have the best impact on mental as well as physical health, according to a new paper from Deakin University.

Lead author Dr Megan Teychenne, a senior lecturer in Deakin’s Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN), said exercise could have an extremely positive impact on mental health and wellbeing, but some of these effects are likely to be missed in the current international recommendations.

‘Globally there are great physical activity guidelines that show the amount of exercise needed to maintain good general health, but our research suggests that they miss aspects that are crucial for mental health’ Teychenne said; ‘In fact, what our research shows is that physical activity for mental health is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and not all exercises are equal when it comes to improving mental health and wellbeing.

‘Exercising for leisure or as part of active transport – cycling for example – has the greatest benefit for mental health. While physical activity at work has been shown in some studies to have a negative effect on mental health, and carrying out physical domestic duties appears to offer no positive effect.

‘Factors like enjoyment and social interaction are likely to positively impact the relationship between physical activity and mental health. We found exercise that is self-motivated, enjoyable or personally important is associated with good mental wellbeing. While exercise that is undertaken due to guilt or pressure is associated with poor mental wellbeing, and is therefore unlikely to be sustainable.

‘For physical health the activity domain doesn’t matter, but for mental health our evidence suggests it matters quite a bit. Of course, we don’t want to deter people from doing any form of physical activity, but for optimal mental health benefits, it’s important to make this distinction.’

Teychenne said the recommended amount of physical activity – a minimum of 150 minutes of aerobic exercise and two sessions of muscle-strengthening exercises per week – also needed to be re-examined in light of mental health impacts: ‘Our research shows that we can experience mental health benefits from exercise at even lower doses. So a key message should be that something is better than nothing when it comes to mental health’.

Teychenne said some of these intricacies were recognised in the Australian physical activity guidelines but not in the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines.

‘Another issue is that the current global guidelines just single out how physical activity can help combat the symptoms of depression but do not cover off on other elements of mental health or wellbeing’ she said; ‘Research shows that exercise can also help those with anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and psychosis, as well as general mental wellbeing. It’s important we expand the terminology here so people are aware of the full range of benefits.’

Teychenne said the aim of her paper – recently published in the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity –  was to get mental health much more firmly on the radar in the development of the guidelines; ‘We propose that global recommendations consider both the prevention of mental ill-being and the promotion of mental well-being’ she said; ‘In line with this, we suggest recommendations include two further points: one, do some physical activity during leisure-time or in active travel, where possible prioritising activities that are enjoyable or self-driven, and two, some physical activity is better than none for both physical and mental health.

‘These international recommendations are critical in guiding researchers and policymakers in intervention and program development. They are often used as the basis for mass media campaigns to promote public health, and they’re also something that should be used by GPs to promote healthy behaviours to their patients.’

Teychenne said only a little over half of people reached the recommended 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week, while less than a quarter meet both aerobic and strengthening exercise targets.

‘With mental disorders among the leading causes of disease and disability globally, it’s critical we optimise these guidelines to better promote physical and mental health around the world’ she said.

Source: Deakin University

Fitness Australia announce new additions to Board of Directors

Industry registration body, Fitness Australia, has announced Jen Dugard, Chantal Brodrick and Ty Menzies as the newly elected members of the Fitness Australia Board of Directors.

Jayne Blake, Chairperson of Fitness Australia said ‘Jen, Chantal and Ty are each very highly respected and skilled professionals who have already contributed to the fitness industry in a major way over many years. Fitness Australia’s Directors and I are very excited about what these new Board members will bring to the team, and what’s to come for Fitness Australia.’

‘Our organisation will continue to support the industry through advocacy at all levels of Government, the media, and the general public as well as collaboratively set industry standards and support a high-quality workforce. Our members embody a well-recognised international standard for which we’re extremely proud to be representing, so that the Australian public can access quality physical activity services whilst living an active lifestyle.’

‘Congratulations in particular to Jen Dugard and Chantal Brodrick for being the first two AusREPs to be elected onto Fitness Australia’s Board of Directors – paving the way for others AusREPs to come’ said Blake.

The Board is responsible for providing strategic leadership to Fitness Australia within a framework of prudent and effective controls and establishing the organisation’s vision, mission, values and standards of conduct in the interests of industry members, stakeholders and the communities in which it operates.

Existing business member Justin McDonell, Co-Founder & Chairman of Anytime Fitness Australia and Collective Wellness Group, will continue to serve as an elected Business Member on the Board.

Source: Fitness Australia


Teens with heart disease improve exercise capacity

The largest-ever clinical trial of a medication for paediatric cardiology patients found that an oral drug significantly improved exercise capacity in adolescent patients with severe, congenital single ventricle heart defects.

A study leader says the physiologic benefits represent a milestone in the care of those who have undergone the Fontan procedure, a palliative operation for single-ventricle disease.

‘Exercise capacity is a surrogate for morbidity and mortality outcomes in children with single ventricle congenital heart disease. It is our hope that an improvement in exercise capacity will translate into better long-term outcomes’ said pediatric cardiologist David Goldberg, MD, of the Cardiac Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and co-principal investigator of the multicentre Fontan Udenafil Exercise Longitudinal Assessment Trial (FUEL). The principal investigator of the trial, also from CHOP’s Cardiac Center, was Stephen Paridon, MD.

Goldberg reported the FUEL Trial results at the 2019 Scientific Sessions of the American Heart Association in Philadelphia and was the lead author of an article published concurrently in the journal Circulation.

The Phase 3 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, sponsored by Mezzion Pharma Co., Ltd., enrolled 400 male and female participants aged 12 to 18 years old from 30 centres in the United States, Canada and South Korea within the Pediatric Heart Network. ‘This study of udenafil provides the first evidence of clinical benefit for a medication in this unique population of children with single-ventricle heart disease’ said Goldberg.

Patients born with single-ventricle heart defects have a severely underdeveloped pumping chamber in their hearts. A series of complex childhood surgeries culminating in the Fontan procedure has greatly improved survival of patients with single-ventricle disease. However, the surgical corrections do not provide normal blood circulation, and survivors have low cardiac output and long-term complications. Among those complications is exercise intolerance, associated with increased morbidity and mortality.

The researchers reported that participants in the FUEL trial had statistically significant improvements in oxygen consumption and other measures of exercise capacity during moderate levels of activity. There was also a numeric improvement in oxygen consumption at peak exercise, although this did not achieve statistical significance. ‘These benefits in exercise capacity reflect better circulatory function, and should correlate with better long-term circulatory health for patients who have undergone the Fontan procedure’ said Goldberg.

The patients who took udenafil tolerated the treatment well, with side effects limited to those previously known from phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors, more commonly including headache, facial flushing, abdominal pain, nosebleed and erection (among males).

Source: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

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