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Physical activity and cardiovascular prevention: Is healthy urban living a possible reality or utopia?


Favoring correct lifestyles is the most important measure to contrast cardiovascular diseases and the epidemic of high cardiovascular risk conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. Lifestyle is a broad expression that includes diet, physical exercise, and psychological and socio-economic factors, each of which must be taken into due consideration because of their intertwining influences, which may be a barrier to healthy changes at both the individual and population levels. While physical activity has probably received less attention in the last decades, it is likely the most important among the modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. Improving the habitual physical activity level is an achievable goal, and even small improvements may have important favorable effects on health. Strategies at the population level have to be urgently taken, and involve not only public health, but also administrators and politicians, starting from a rethinking of our cities.