Skip to main content

The physical therapy profession has long understood the value of physical activity — and that understanding is spreading, thanks in part to continual research on the health benefits of PA across a range of conditions.

As APTA continues its public information campaign on the importance of physical activity, here are five recent studies that underscore the message that more movement means better health — now and in the future.

Exercise Could Aid in Decreasing Anxiety Disorder Symptoms
This study from Sweden chronicles the effects of a 12-week exercise program among patients diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. A total of 286 patients were assigned to one of three groups: a control group that didn't receive exercise interventions, a cardiorespiratory exercise group, and a resistance training group. After the 12-week program researchers found the exercise groups were associated with 3.6 times higher odds for improved self-reported anxiety scores, and 4.8 times higher odds for improved depression scores, compared with the control group. Those odds increased with increased levels of moderate to high-intensity exercise. (Journal of Affective Disorders)

Better Cardiorespiratory Fitness in Mid-Life Pays Off Years Later
A study of 2,962 individuals who participated in a long-term health study conducted between 1979 and 2001 looked at reported levels of cardiorespiratory health in midlife (between ages 20 and 78) and later emergence of subclinical atherosclerosis, vascular stiffness, hypertension, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and mortality. Researchers found that higher rates of cardiorespiratory fitness in midlife was associated with lower risk of all conditions. Authors of the study write that the findings "suggest that midlife [cardiorespiratory health] may serve as a prognostic marker" for chronic conditions in later life. (JAMA Network Open)

Exercise Doesn't Increase Risks of Later Knee Osteoarthritis
Does running or other recreational physical activity contribute to later knee OA? Authors of a recent study say no. In a study of 5,065 participants followed over the course of five to 12 years, researchers found that, based on metabolic equivalents of tasks, various sports as well as running, biking, and walking had a "non-significant" effect on the later emergence of knee OA. (Arthritis & Rheumatology)

Physical Activity Correlates With Lower Risk of All-Cause Mortality for Individuals With Parkinson Disease
A nationwide study of 10,699 individuals with PD found that "all physical activity intensities" were associated with reduced all-cause mortality, and that the reductions increased as PA increased. Individuals with PD showed even lower rates of mortality if they were physically active both before and after the PD diagnosis. (JAMA Neurology)

Research Makes Inroads Into How PA Helps Reduce Dementia Risk
Scientists have understood that PA reduces dementia risk, but exactly how that risk is reduced has remained something of a mystery. Now researchers examining human brains of deceased individuals whose levels of PA had been tracked for years prior to their deaths think they may have a clue. Their analysis found that physical activity appears to reduce the proportion of morphologically activated microglia, also known as PAM. Activated microglia have been associated with damage to the brain through the release of chemicals that increase inflammation, which is in turn related to dementia. Researchers found that lower levels of PAM were correlated with individuals who reported higher levels of PA in their lifetimes. (Journal of Neuroscience)

APTA's consumer website,, continues to be your go-to stop for resources to share with patients and consumers on physical activity, including handouts and graphics in our online toolkit. In addition, APTA members get an exclusive listing in the Find a PT database on, making it easier for consumers to find you. Activate or update your profile today!

For questions about the campaign, contact APTA's Public and Media Relations at

You Might Also Like...


Study Finds Disparities in Hospital-Based Therapy Received by ICU Patients

May 22, 2024

Among Medicare patients, rurality, lower income, and lack of English proficiency were associated with therapy received while hospitalized.


Study: Even Small Amounts of Physical Activity Can Lower Depression Risk

May 3, 2022

An analysis of multiple studies found participants who reached just half of the weekly PA recommendation saw a 18% drop in depression risk.


The Rehabilitation Ceiling: When Is Skilled Therapy "Done"?

Sep 2, 2021

When is it time to discontinue skilled therapy? Maybe you think you know the answer to that question, but with these two case studies, I hope to spark