Exercise as a Wonder Drug
Of all the things I prescribe to patients, few provide as much benefit as physical activity.
I saw an article which listed just some of the proof:
1- 32 trials show that exercise improves pain and function in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee.
2- 10 studies showed exercise therapy increases aerobic capacity and muscle strength in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
3- 14 studies showed exercise benefits in patients with heart failure.
4- Exercise lowers blood pressure and improves cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
5- In patients with diabetes, exercise lowers HgbA1C, a marker of blood sugar control.
6- 20 randomized studies show that patients with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) walk further and function better with exercise.
7- 6 studies show that exercise improves muscle power and mobility in patients with multiple sclerosis.
8- 23 randomized controlled studies showed exercise improves symptoms of depression.
9- 5 studies show exercise improves symptoms in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome.
10- For patients who had a heart attack, exercise reduced the risk of death by 27% and death due to heart conditions by 31%.
11- In a large meta analysis of 305 trials with 340,000 participants, exercise was found to be equally good as drugs in preventing death from coronary heart disease.
12- Multiple studies showing exercise benefit for back pain.
And you don’t need to do high intensity training like Crossfit, P90X or SoulCycle. The recommendations for exercise are 150 minutes per week of ‘moderate’ intensity, or about 30 minutes each weekday. Moderate intensity is defined as walking briskly at 3-4 miles/hr or bicycling slower than 10 miles/hour. Anything that gets heartrate between 110-140/min.
In 2015 the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges put out a report calling exercise a “miracle cure” and the British Medical Journal countered that exercise was instead “the best buy for public health”. Either way physical activity is Key!!
“Closest Thing to a Wonder Drug? Try Exercise”, Aaron E. Carroll, The New York Times, June 21, 2006.