Secondary Prevention

Regular physical activity can improve your health and help prevent chronic diseases like arthritis, asthma, heart disease, cancer and diabetes. There are 3 levels of disease prevention:

  1. Primary Prevention - trying to prevent yourself from getting a disease. 
  2. Secondary Prevention - trying to detect a disease early and prevent it from getting worse.
  3. Tertiary Prevention - trying to improve your quality of life and reduce the symptoms of a disease you already have.

Secondary Prevention

At the secondary prevention level, we try to detect a disease early, identify risks and try to prevent the disease and its symptoms from progressing. Some of the assessments used to identify risks include blood pressure tests, blood glucose tests, cholesterol tests, bone density tests, body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio calculations, and fitness assessments.

The Canadian Physical Activity, Fitness and Lifestyle Approach (CPAFLA) is a specialized assessment that points out ways to improve health-related physical fitness. Health-related fitness includes the parts of physical fitness that are related to your health condition. It focuses on how healthy, strong and safe your heart, bones, muscles, joints and lungs are. 

Here are some steps to take if you'd like to use physical activity as a form of secondary prevention.

Deciding if Physical Activity is Right for You

  • Call 8-1-1 to speak to a qualified exercise professional for advice. 
  • Fill out a Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire for Everyone (PAR-Q+). If you answer yes to any of the PAR-Q+ questions, you should take the ePARmed-X+ exam.
  • Have a fitness assessment and/or lifestyle appraisal by a qualified exercise professional.
  • If you have a family history of health problems, are overweight or obese, or haven't been physically active for several years, you should talk to your health care provider before becoming more active.

Overcoming Barriers to Physical Activity

There are lots of reasons for not being physically active. For tips on how to overcome these barriers, see Overcoming Barriers: Adding More Physical Activity to your Life.

Types of Activities

There are 3 types of activities to keep you r body healthy:

  1. Activities for strong bones and muscles.
  2. Activities for safe and healthy joints and muscles.
  3. Activities for healthy and strong heart and lungs.

Adults should work toward doing 30 or more minutes of moderate activity 5 to 7 days per week. Children and youth should do 90 minutes of moderate activity on most days of the week. Remember, activity doesn't have to be done all at once. It can be done 10 to 15 minutes at a time.

Last Reviewed: December 2016


© 2016 Province of British Columbia. All rights reserved. May be reproduced in its entirety provided the source is acknowledged. This information is not meant to replace advice from your medical doctor or individual counselling with a health professional. It is intended for educational and informational purposes only.

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