Physical activity

17% of Swiss women and 11% of Swiss men exercise only to a moderate degree (about 20 minutes/day) or not at all. In those older than 75, the proportion of inactive people rises considerable, to around 30% (source: BfS)—and all this although regular physical exercise has health benefits:

  • Lower rates of cardiovascular disease and diabetes
  • Lower rates of developing dementia or strokes
  • Lower rates of osteoporosis and associated fractures
  • Fewer falls and their consequences in old age
  • Lower rates of cancer—for example, bowel cancer or breast cancer
  • A more positive mood and fewer instances of depressive dysphoria
  • Weight control

People’s quality of life usually improves remarkably as a result of increased physical activity. We know from the so-called dose-response curve that the people who benefit most from (even modest) physical activity are those who have not previously exercised. The health benefit in this setting is even greater than if people who have exercised previously engage in even more intense physical activities. Small exercise units in everyday life—such as taking the stairs instead of the lift, walking instead of taking the car or bus, going for a walk outside—have a measurable effect. It is important not to talk to inactive people about sports and exercise as an aim but about everyday leisure activities and about their health benefits. A doctor’s own exercise behaviour is a key factor in their advice to the patient being successful.

A structured approach is valuable in order to gain motivation and confidence in the fact that more activity in everyday life will be beneficial. Our partner programme PAPRICA (Physical Activity Promotion in Primary Care) provides such a structure and also entails useful instructions that can be embedded in the programme “Health Coaching KHM.”