News from the 2015 AAOSH Meeting: Part 1 – Exercise

Posted on by Jen McGuire | Category Total Health

runningThe American Academy for Oral Systemic Health once again gathered together top speakers for their largest conference to date, held in Dallas September 17 – 19. The meeting, which included a tour of the nearby Cooper Clinic, focused considerable attention on the power of exercise
in chronic disease prevention and reducing inflammation.

Dentists may ask patients about their activity levels to assist in assessing patient risk of chronic disease. The general exercise recommendation provided by the Cooper Clinic is 1 hour of moderate exercise, 3 times a week.

Exercise is Medicine.
-Dr. Kenneth Cooper

In the 1960’s when Dr. Kenneth Cooper recommended that people exercise, popular media announced that people would drop dead in the streets jogging. At this time, people were told to “act their age”, that physical activity was for young people only. Dr. Cooper saw the connection between exercise and health and began a campaign to encourage physical activity.

In 1968 only 24% of the population exercised. By 1984, 59% of the population exercised. During this time, the US experienced a 48% decrease in cardiovascular disease. When studied, it was found that lifestyle changes accounted for 67% of the decrease in CVD, while advancements in medical treatments were responsible for 33% of the reduction.

After exercise rates peaked in 1990, they began to fall and in 2008, the percent of exercisers was down to just 35%. During this decline our improving health trends also reversed. While rates of exercise slowed, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes began to rise again.

Exercise increases our coronary artery diameter, making blockages less likely. It can also reduce risk of cancer; one-third of cancer can be prevented with lifestyle changes. New research followed patients for 25 years between ages 50 and 75 and found a 36% decrease in dementia between the highest fit group and the lowest fit. Exercise is a powerful weapon against many of the most common diseases.

According to Cooper Clinic cardiologist, Dr. Nina Radford, there are two approaches to public health. Traditionally the approach has been to reduce disease-related morbidity and mortality.  In the last five years there has been a slow shift towards maintaining and improving CVD health. Health is no longer simply the absence of active disease. In this approach, wellness takes the front seat, and dentists can play a key role in developing patients’ understanding and engagement in wellness. If these topics seem too complex to discuss with patients, simply recommending that patients “exercise more and eat more fruits and vegetables” will go a long way towards improving patient health.

To learn more about the 2015 AAOSH meeting, visit

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