Intended for healthcare professionals

Clinical Review Recent advances

Sports medicine

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: (Published 11 August 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:328
  1. Roald Bahr (, professor in sports medicine
  1. Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center, University of Sports and Physical Education, 0806 Oslo, Norway

    Sports medicine conjures up television images of sideline treatment of professional athletes. The field has widened, however, to encompass the many specialties where sport, exercise, and medicine meet. Sports medicine now comprises two main areas: the health benefits of regular physical activity and the health problems associated with sport and physical activity. The first area has become increasingly important now that inactivity and obesity are common. The health problems associated with sport have also assumed increasing importance because of increased participation and professionalism in sport.


    I used information from articles found through the Medline database on topics I selected after reviewing major sports medicine journals. I selected topics relating to advances where primary care doctors have a key role in promoting physical activity and preventing and treating medical problems in active patients.

    Health benefits of regular physical activity

    One of the most important advances in medicine is the documentation that regular physical activity reduces the risk of premature mortality, coronary heart disease, hypertension, colon cancer, obesity, and diabetes mellitus.1 Recent studies have shown that inactivity and low cardiorespiratory fitness are as important predictors of mortality and morbidity as overweight, obesity, smoking, and raised cholesterol levels and blood pressure.16 Physical activity also protects against breast cancer, and possibly prostate, lung, and endometrial cancer.1

    Substantial health benefits can be obtained by undertaking a moderate amount of physical activity on most, if not all, days of the week.1 Most recommendations suggest moderately intense exercise with large muscle groups—such as brisk walking—for 30 minutes. Recent evidence suggests that exercise sessions may be split into shorter bouts of 5-10 minutes' duration, or even shorter bouts if exercise intensity is high enough.

    Recent advances

    Daily, moderately intense exercise such as walking for 30 minutes yields substantial health benefits

    Regular physical activity attenuates the health risks associated with overweight …

    View Full Text

    Log in

    Log in through your institution


    * For online subscription