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New Danish research centre to explore potential of physical activity as treatment for non-communicable diseases

Danish foundation TrygFonden has pledged DKK 40 million towards establishing a new research centre called ‘Center for Aktiv Sundhed’ (Centre for Active Health). The Centre will be located at Denmark’s largest hospital, ‘Rigshospitalet’, and will focus on practical research investigating the use of physical activity and training programs in the treatment of non-communicable diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, lung disease and mental illness.


A guiding notion behind the new Centre’s area of research is that physical activity has been proven to strengthen people who are already healthy and active, so it could also be used to strengthen the health and wellbeing of people suffering from serious medical conditions.


“We know a great deal about how healthy people should exercise, whether they are training for a marathon or exercising to build up their resistance to illness,” says Bente Klarlund Pedersen, the University of Copenhagen Professor and Rigshospitalet physician who will lead the Centre.


“But we know very little about the potential of using physical activity to treat non-communicable diseases. What are the healing effects of exercise? How hard and how long should you work out when you have a serious illness? And how do you get patients to train on their own without needing a medical practitioner by their side? These are just some of the questions TrygFonden’s Centre for Active Health aims to find answers to.”


The Centre for Active Health is initially being funded for three to four years, and during this period it will set up customised training programmes, in collaboration with experts from Copenhagen Municipality, the Danish Committee for Health Education and Danish Physiotherapists, that take different illnesses and individual patients’ circumstances into consideration. The Centre’s progress and findings over this period will not only determine whether its funding will be extended, but whether it will have an innovative impact on how treatment for non-communicable diseases is administered in Denmark.


“There is no doubt that the Centre’s results have the potential to change practices in the Danish healthcare system and give rise to brand new methods of treatment,” TrygFonden’s research leader, Anders Hede, says.


The announcement about the new Danish Centre for Active Health comes less than a year after the British Journal of Sports Medicine published an article linking physical activity with non-communicable disease prevention. The article points to the value of using physical activity to reduce high blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels, and thereby decrease the chance of developing or exacerbating non-communicable disease symptoms.


Find out more about the Centre for Active Health at TrygFonden’s website (in Danish) here>>>


Read more about the British Journal of Sports Medicine article here>>>