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In the past, physicians usually advised patients with chronic diseases to rest and avoid physical effort. These recommendations were empirical: as most chronic diseases are associated with functional changes resulting in an impairment of physical performance, exercise in this group of patients may generate fatigue, breathlessness, and tachycardia. Therefore, avoiding physical activity results in less discomfort.
However, in the last few years, scientific evidence has dramatically changed our ideas about exercise for patients with chronic diseases. In the late 1960s, the inclusion of physical activity in rehabilitation programmes for patients who had had myocardial infarction set a milestone and opened up new perspectives for the use of exercise in treatment for chronic diseases. Now, it is a well established fact that excessive rest and lack of physical activity may result in severe deconditioning and thus reduce the functional status and quality of life of the chronically ill. Furthermore, numerous studies have shown that exercise is an effective means for counteracting …
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