Traffic light system to measure activity could help people improve their health

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The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Health & Education Editor

A TRAFFIC light system used as a guide to healthy eating could be used in a similar way to help people become more active, researchers have found.

Researchers at Teesside University and Bath University found that by examining different aspects of physical activity and scoring them using red, amber and green, gives a better picture about whether a person is doing the right kind of physical activity for health.

The system works by participants wearing a body sensor which shows how much energy they burn, and then allocating this to various physical activity categories which are known to be important for health.

Dr Dylan Thompson from Bath and Professor Alan Batterham from Teesside University examined physical activity energy expenditure over one week in 100 men using this system.

Using a simple tool like the traffic light system shows people that there are many ways in which physical activity and inactivity can have an effect on their health.

This might include engaging in vigorous intensity exercise sessions like going to the gym, or other types of movement such as standing rather than sitting, or walking to work instead of driving.

The research, which is published in the journal PloSONE, supports other recent research that shows there are positive benefits from just a few minutes of very high intensity activity and, conversely, very powerful negative effects from the accumulation of long periods of sedentary time.

This aim is to use these new insights to help at-risk patients to increase their physical activity and reduce their risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

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