October 10, 2013We're all aware of health benefits derived from physical activity. Now, a new study indicates that exercise is as good or better than drugs for some common cardiovascular ailments! Researchers at Harvard Medical School and Stanford University School of Medicine evaluated 57 randomized studies that involved more than 14,000 patients who had experienced heart attacks or strokes. The purpose of the research was to judge the effect on mortality of exercise and drugs for four common causes of death: prevention of secondary coronary heart disease, rehabilitation after stroke, prevention of heart failure, and the prevention of Type 2 diabetes. The studies used drugs that are commonly prescribe in specific areas: statins for the prevention of heart disease, blood thinners for stroke victims, diuretics for heart failure, and oral anti-diabetic for pre-diabetes. The results were interesting: no difference was found between patients who took prescribed drugs or those who followed a physical fitness regimen in the mortality rate for secondary heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, while exercise programs were actually more effective than medication in stroke prevention! Only in the treatment of heart failure were drugs -- antidiuretics -- found to be more effective than a physical fitness program. This is great news, but it has a dark side. A new survey from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that included more than 450,000 randomly selected adults ages 18 and older, found that nearly 80 percent of adult Americans do not get the recommended amounts of exercise each week. It is recommended that adults get at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity and muscle-strengthening activities at least twice per week. They stated that physical inactivity leads to more than 5 million deaths worldwide each year! It's a depressing statistic, but it does demonstrate that improving our health is in our hands. One hundred-fifty minutes of exercise a week may sound like too much at first, but remember, you don't have to do it all at once. It's best to exercise each day, if your workouts are of moderate-intensity, you can even break them up into three 10-minute walks five days a week! Get on the healthy side of these statistics, get up and move -- the health benefits are worth it. Patients with existing health conditions should talk to their doctor before stopping medication or engaging in exercise programs.
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