Can Exercise Benefit Common Health Conditions?
As a New Year begins, many are thinking “how do I get rid of this extra 5-10 pounds?” that I gained during the holidays. The holiday “bulge” is generally the year’s greatest impetus to begin exercise… and the fitness industry knows that. They refer to the millions who join gyms as “30-day Wonders” because they join enthusiastically after New Year’s and workout regularly all through January and then disappear for the next 11 months. Exercising for a few weeks a year is not making exercise a part of your lifestyle and often makes little difference in losing that extra 5-10 holiday pounds. Statistics show that only one third of Americans get regular exercise while at the same time prescription drug use is skyrocketing. For exercise to be an effective lifestyle strategy it must be done regularly all year long. There are numerous studies that prove that exercise is a critical part of a healthy lifestyle and helps prevent many lifestyle diseases… but now a new study shows that exercise may actually be of more value in treating certain diseases than the prescription drugs used to treat them.
Is Exercise Just As Effective As Prescription Drugs?
Researchers at the London School of Economics, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute at Harvard Medical School and Stanford University School of Medicine compared the effectiveness of exercise versus drugs on mortality for the secondary prevention of coronary heart disease, and prevention of diabetes. Secondary prevention refers to treating patients with existing disease before it causes significant illness. They analyzed the results of 305 randomized controlled trials involving 339,274 individuals and found no statistically detectable differences between exercise and drug interventions for secondary prevention of heart disease and prevention of diabetes. And while it is tempting to believe popping a pill will cure all ills, simple lifestyle changes have already proved effective in the treatment of arthritis of the knee, depression, and high blood pressure. The study researchers concluded that “In cases where drug options provide only modest benefit, patients deserve to understand the relative impact that physical activity might have on their condition.”
“Exercise potentially as effective as many drugs for common diseases”, British Medical Journal, Tuesday, October 1, 2013 – 13:31