Please select your location

UK, Europe and Middle East


Feedback IconFeedback
Biologic Regulation of Physical Activity

Biologic Regulation of Physical Activity


Available As


    The benefits of a healthy lifestyle are well documented, yet many people continue to struggle with sedentary behavior and obesity. In Biologic Regulation of Physical Activity, Dr. Thomas W. Rowland posits a distinct possibility of the existence of a central biologic controller of activity. If harnessed, this mechanism could lead to breakthroughs in health science professionals’ quest for more effective ways of helping people be more active and, as a result, healthier.

    Rowland is one of the most well-respected pediatric cardiologists in the United States. He has authored three other books and more than 150 journal articles and has served in several key national leadership positions in pediatric medicine. In Biologic Regulation of Physical Activity, Rowland uses his expertise, along with numerous references and direct quotes from expert witnesses, to provide a detailed account of how current research may support the existence of a biologic regulator—a mechanism in the brain that involuntarily controls biological processes—associated with physical activity. Rowland proposes a possible mechanism for such a control and explores the implications of this theory. This developing area of research and theory offers a new lens through which health professionals and those who research issues related to obesity, physical activity adherence, and sedentary behaviors can view their work.

    The book moves methodically through the research, rationale, and implications of a biologic regulator of physical activity. In part I, Surveying the Evidence, readers are guided through a litany of research—both on humans and on animals—that provides support for the existence of a biologic regulator. This section synthesizes evidence from an interdisciplinary perspective, covering research on topics such as behavioral disorders, brain damage, lifetime activity patterns, and sex differences.

    Part II, Rationale and Mechanisms details the possible biologic explanation for control of energy output through activity and proposes a mechanism by which it might function in order to maintain an energy in–energy out balance. The hypothesis presented in this section is that the body has a need for energy balance that leads to activity regulation, similar to how the body regulates appetite.

    In part III, Implications of Biologic Regulation of Activity, some clear implications from current research, which may help health science professionals in their treatment and prevention efforts against patients’ obesity and inactivity, are discussed. Rowland also poses some critical questions for further research, if indeed a biologic controller of activity exists, such as how much effect a biologic controller might have on activity level as compared to environmental factors and whether this biologic regulator could be altered.

    This book will initiate further discussion, examination, and research into the idea that physical activity may be, at least in part, controlled by a central biologic regulator. Further study may lead to a widespread realization that there is an involuntary biologic regulator of activity that, once fully understood, could lead researchers to discover alternative interventions in the fight against inactivity and obesity.


    Professional reference text for exercise physiologists, health educators, neurophysiologists, social scientists, and health clinicians interested in studying the obesity epidemic, physical activity adherence, and sedentary behaviors.

    Table of Contents

    Part I. Surveying the Evidence
    Chapter 1. Nature of Physical Activity
    Measuring Physical Activity
    Categorizing Physical Activity
    Chapter 2. Physical Activity Through the Life Span
    Human Beings
    Physical Activity of Animals
    Chapter 3. Effects of Sex
    Sexual Maturation
    Sex Differences in Infancy
    Chapter 4. Neurochemical Models
    Other Neurochemical Mediators
    Chapter 5. Perturbations of Brain Function
    Lesions in Animal Brains
    Anorexia Nervosa
    Restless Legs Syndrome
    Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
    Chapter 6. Organized Variability
    Animal Circadian Rhythms
    Human Circadian Rhythms
    Other Variability
    Chapter 7. Genetic Influences
    Familial and Twin Studies
    Animal Selection
    Genetic Markers
    Epigenetic Influences
    Chapter 8. Physical Activity Play
    Function of Physical Play
    Neurological Basis
    Part II. Rationale and Mechanisms
    Chapter 9. Activity Regulation and the Need for Energy Balance
    Energy Balance as a Biological Need
    Role of Physical Activity in Energy Balance
    Biologic Origin of Other Contributors to Energy Balance
    Parallel Decline With Aging
    Compensatory Responses in Energy Balance
    Chapter 10. Mechanisms for Biologic Control
    Feedback Systems
    Proposed Biologic Control System for Habitual Physical Activity
    Activity-Stat Versus Energy-Stat
    Part III. Implications of Biologic Regulation of Activity
    Chapter 11. Responses to Activity Interventions
    Compensatory Changes in Physical Activity
    Compensatory Changes in Caloric Intake
    Long-Term Changes in Physical Activity Habits
    Implications for Health Promotion
    Chapter 12. Understanding Obesity: The Biologic Perspective
    First Law of Thermodynamics
    Obesity as an Error in Energy Balance
    Behavioral Explanations for Energy Imbalance
    Genetic Explanations for Energy Imbalance
    Implications for Treatment and Prevention
    Chapter 13. Altering the Biologic Control of Activity
    Plasticity of Biologic Set Points
    Can Cognitive Will Override Biologic Control?
    Can Hedonistic Behavior Override Biologic Control?
    Role of Spontaneous Physical Activity and NEAT
    Pharmacological Manipulation of Physical Activity Regulators
    About the Author

    About the Author

    Thomas W. Rowland, MD, is a pediatric cardiologist at the Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts. He is a professor of pediatrics at Tufts University School of Medicine and was a past adjunct professor of exercise science at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. A graduate of the University of Michigan Medical School, Rowland is board certified in pediatrics and pediatric cardiology by the American Board of Pediatrics.

    Rowland, who has had more than 150 journal articles published, is the author of three books: Children’s Exercise Physiology, Second Edition; Tennisology: Inside the Science of Serves, Nerves, and On-Court Dominance; and The Athlete’s Clock. He has served as editor of the journal Pediatric Exercise Science and president of the North American Society for Pediatric Exercise Medicine (NASPEM) and was on the board of trustees of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). He is past president of the New England chapter of the ACSM and received the ACSM Honor Award in 1993.

    Rowland is a competitive tennis player and distance runner. He and his wife, Margot, reside in Longmeadow, Massachusetts.