Doctors have long recommended regular exercise to promote optimal health. But just how beneficial is it really?
A surprising new study finds it is actually more helpful than many may have realized; in fact, it may even be as effective as medication for treating heart disease and diabetes.
Published in the British Medical Journal, a large review involving 339,274 people and 305 clinical trials found no detectable difference between the effects of exercise and drugs for patients with coronary heart disease or prediabetes. Even more startling, for patients recovering from strokes, the effectiveness of exercise surpassed that of medications.
Researchers Call Exercise a “Blind Spot” Within the Scientific World
The study’s authors had a unique rationale for the study. A body of research has examined the benefits of drugs, and a separate body of research has examined the benefits of exercise; but no study has compared the two together, lead researcher Huseyin Naci told Fox News.
Scientists involved in the study say a “blind spot” exists within the body of medical research, as drugs have been studied much more extensively than exercise in clinical trials. They note that this lack “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”.
Growing Evidence Points to Exercise as the Key to Health
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), physical inactivity is responsible for 3.2 million deaths around the globe each year. The WHO says regular moderate exercise can lower the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and depression along with colon and breast cancer. Additionally, it can reduce the risk of bone fractures and aid in weight control.
Moderate exercise can take the form of an array of activities including walking, cycling and participating in sports. Experts say 2.5 hours of moderate exercise are needed per week.
Why Hasn’t Exercise Been Emphasized More?
- Shane Ellison, organic chemist and author of Over-the-Counter Natural Cures, shares his opinion with Live in the Now. “Exercise is underrated simply because it’s not making anyone rich. The body is its own best pharmacy. When put in the right conditions, like exercise, it pumps out anti-inflammatory compounds as well as anti-depressants. Unfortunately, most people are not taught how to access this with fitness. Drug hype supersedes this logic.”
- Live in the Now also spoke to Kathy Gruver, Ph.D., natural health author, speaker and practitioner. A firm believer in the role of healthy lifestyle practices like exercises in preventing and alleviating illness, she makes the following observations when asked why the medical community has not emphasized exercise more.
“One of the really simple answers is that there is no insurance reimbursement for prescribing exercise. Most doctors would certainly acknowledge its value and importance in health, but it’s not esteemed highly enough by a system that wants a diagnosis and prescription.”
“Lifestyle medicine, such as diet, exercise and stress-reduction, is something that is very rarely addressed within our medical system. That is why I believe it’s not so much health care as it is disease management.”
“Doctors, unfortunately, have so little time with patients and even less time for follow up to see if they are actually walking every day or lifting weights. And exercise is a scary word for patients; it means they have to go to the gym and work out. If it could be approached from a more balanced perspective of working with patients to see what would thrill them as exercise, it would be more easily incorporated. For example, a patient may refuse to go to the gym, but he or she may enjoy hip-hop dance or flying trapeze as exercise. We need to look outside the traditional and customize.”
Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at http://www.alternativemedicinetruth.com. Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.