Special Populations and Exercise Prescription Health and Fitness Report and Exercise Programme

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Special Populations and Exercise Prescription

Health and Fitness Report and Exercise Programme

Brett Gallaway MSS06

Lecturer – Phil Sanger


Health and fitness today, are seen to have much more impact on our lifestyles than ever before, with its benefits no longer confined to budding sports enthusiasts and professionals. The use of exercise to improve function, relieve symptoms and maintain a state of well being are a concept which, more so now than ever, have been embraced and advocated by the medical establishment. In these days where efficacy and cost effectiveness of medical intervention need to be justified therapeutic rehabilitation is seen as a key economic issue. In general, rehabilitation patients have shorter hospital stays and improved recovery rates which in turn places less strain on financial resources.

The need for medical intervention of special population groups is much more common than that of the general populous (Shankar, 1999). Certainly those individuals who fall within the classification of obese are more prone to hospitalization due to relative issues (Quesenberry, C.P, 1998). Clearly then the need for preventative therapeutic intervention plays a large role as does rehabilitation, the latter of the two of course, having less impact on resources (NHS, 2008).

Special Population considerations

In terms of physiology, special populations fall into several distinct categories, and in each of these categories it is necessary for those undertaking any referral or fitness programme to have a good working knowledge of the special considerations necessary for the welfare and safety of the patient.

When considering any type of health and fitness plan, it is imperative that the anatomical and physiological differences are understood (Shankar, 1999). The following section highlights specific differences in special populations.


Obesity is fast becoming the developed world's biggest health problem, with over 9,000 deaths a year in England being caused by obesity alone (WHO, 2006). Adult obesity rates have almost quadrupled over the last 25 years, and two thirds of UK adults are now considered overweight or obese. Of these, 22% of men and 23% of women are obese (NHS, 2008). This means that they are at least two to three stone overweight and putting their health at serious risk. According to figures from the National Audit Office, being obese can take up to nine years off your lifespan. It also makes you far more likely to develop a range of health-related problems (NAO, 2001). The most common of these include:

Diabetes - Type 2 or non-insulin dependent diabetes

In type 2 diabetes, the body does not produce enough insulin, or the cells in your body do not react properly to the insulin. Type 2 diabetes is closely linked to obesity. If an individual is overweight, then losing weight, eating a healthy balanced diet, and taking regular exercise, will greatly reduce the risk of developing diabetes. Usually developing over weeks or months some people with type 2 diabetes have few symptoms or even no symptoms at all (NHS, 2008). However, they still need to have treatment so that other health problems, such as kidney disease, do not develop later on.

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Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)

CHD is the term that describes the process where the walls of the arteries become furred up with fatty deposits. If the coronary arteries become narrow, due to this build up, the blood supply to the heart will be restricted and potentially cause angina. If a coronary artery becomes completely blocked, it can cause a myocardial infarction or heart attack (McArdle et al, 2006).

CHD is the UK's biggest killer, with one in every four men, and one in every six women dying from the disease. In the UK, approximately 300,000 people have a ...

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