Move more, more often! Exercise is one of the most important things you can do to prevent heart disease and diabetes, new research shows. It won’t cost you a penny, and it will save you time and money down the road.
The health benefits of exercise have been well established in a multitude of studies, yet more and more people are leading sedentary lifestyles. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and the incidence of type 2 diabetes is on the rise, but the good news is that there may be something natural that you can do to prevent both conditions: Exercise!
A researcher group from the London School of Economics and Political Science, Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute and Stanford University School of Medicine has found that exercise may be just as effective as drug therapy for the prevention of heart disease and diabetes. The group’s study was published in the October 2013 edition of the British Medical Journal.
The researchers compared mortality rates of four conditions: Coronary heart disease, stroke, heart failure and prediabetes. Their analysis looked at four exercise and 12 drug meta-analyses that included 305 clinical trials and a total of 339,274 participants.
The results of the current analysis showed that there was no statistical difference between the benefits of exercise compared to drug therapy for patients with heart disease or prediabetes. For those individuals recovering from stroke, exercise was a more effective therapy compared to drugs. However, drug therapy, in the form of diuretics, was more effective than exercise for heart failure patients.
A limitation of the current study is that there is a significantly smaller amount of research available on the health benefits of exercise compared to the overwhelming amount of research on the benefits of drug therapy. Makes sense, of course, because drug therapy has to be proven before its market release.
Medical professionals and patients may under-value the impact of exercise on heart disease and diabetes simply because the supporting research is limited. Don’t let that stop you from becoming more active.
For physicians to prescribe exercise to heart disease and prediabetes patients, additional research needs to be done, and the results made available to all medical professionals.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that children and adolescents aged six to 17 years should participate in at least one hour of physical activity per day, including aerobic activity, muscle strengthening and bone strengthening.
Adults over the age of 18 should participate in at least two and a half hours of moderate aerobic activity each week combined with muscle strengthening at least two days per week.
Most Americans, however, aren’t meeting the recommended guidelines. Despite the known health benefits of exercise – longevity, vigor, lower risk of stroke, depression and some cancers –levels of physical activity continue to dwindle in adults and children alike. Less than half of all American adults meet the physical activity recommendations. And less than 30 percent of high school students get at least 60 minutes of exercise each day.
Why not beat the statistics and get moving? And prevent heart disease and diabetes while you’re at it. Start with short, brisk walks and some simple stretches and take it from there. As it turns out, the best medicine may be absolutely free!
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