Exercise is a Powerful Drug
For treating cardiovascular disease and age-related conditions
exercise is a powerful drug
While drugs can be used to treat countless conditions, sometimes their use can be unnecessary or ineffective.
According to a new research review in the British Medical Journal, regular exercise can be just as effective as medications in treating heart disease. The study researchers added that the medical field should pursue more research and treatments that are exercise-based.
"In cases where drug options provide only modest benefit, patients deserve to understand the relative impact that physical activity might have on their condition," the researchers from the London School of Economics in the UK and Harvard and Stanford universities in the United States wrote.
In the review, researchers pulled data from over 300 studies that included nearly 340,000 participants. While the review included a large amount of data, information on the medical benefits of physical exercise are significantly dwarfed by the reams and reams of information on the health benefits of drugs, study authors said.
The research team asserted that this "blind spot" in scientific research "prevents prescribers and their patients from understanding the clinical circumstances where drugs might provide only modest improvement but exercise could yield more profound or sustainable gains.”
This latest study adds to the growing body of information showing that regular physical exercise is a major supporter of human health.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), insufficient physical activity is the fourth highest risk factor for mortality worldwide, identified as playing a role in an estimated 3.2 million deaths around the world annually.
The WHO recommends regular moderate-intensity physical activity, such as playing in recreational sports, can cut the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, breast cancer, bone fractures and depression – conditions often linked with growing older.
In the United States, first lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign has been focused on forming exercise habits early - getting school-aged children to exercise regularly.
“Everyone has a role to play in reducing childhood obesity, including parents, elected officials from all levels of government, schools, health care professionals, faith-based and community-based organizations, and private sector companies,” a statement on the campaign website said. “Your involvement is key to ensuring a healthy future for our children.”