What effect does exercise have on the cells and tissues of the body and how can we use the knowledge to combat conditions like arthritis, diabetes and heart disease? These are just some of the questions that the Canadian Institutes of Health Research's Institute of Musculoskeletal and Arthritis (IMHA) will tackle over the next five years through its strategic plan unveiled at the Saskatchewan University (SU). "As Canada's population ages and grows, the burden of arthritis, osteoporosis, and other musculoskeletal, oral and skin conditions on our health care system will increase," said Jane E. Aubin, IMHA's scientific director. "We want to reduce this burden and improve the health and quality of life of Canadians of all ages by supporting research that increases our understanding of the relationship between physical activity, mobility and health," she added. Over the next five years, the Institute will work with its partners to fund peer-reviewed research and training projects in the area of physical activity and health, according to an IMHA release. This research may range from the cellular behaviour of joint tissues to the psychosocial aspects of exercise, activity and sports on populations. Specific activities may include investigating the prevention or reversal of disease through physical activity and mobility, among others. The institute will also promote the application of the research results into new physical activity policies and programmes in collaboration with partners and communities. "I commend IMHA for choosing physical activity as a strategic research priority," said Karen Chad, acting vice-president research at SU. "As a physical activity researcher, I know first hand the positive effect of regular exercise on health and quality of life."