Exercise Over a Pill?
Most people interested in a healthy lifestyle that find themselves in need of a remedy will rarely go to a pill first. However, for physicians writing a prescription generally the first thing they do. Since few even study nutrition, this is not surprising. I’ve had one doctor in my life ask me about my eating habits and how much I exercised—one. Does anyone else find that a problem? I do because it simply does not make sense.
Nearly every diet drug or weight loss fad du jour will add a tag line that their product works best when taken with a healthy diet, including exercise. When you take your car in for knocking sounds or sluggish response, your mechanic will likely ask what kind of fuel you put in the tank or if you get regular oil changes. That makes sense. Like your vehicle, what you put in your body directly affects your performance.
Time recently reported on a study conducted by the London School of Economics, Harvard Medical School, and Stanford University School of Medicine. The study “compared the effect of exercise to that of drug therapy on four different health outcomes: heart disease, recovery from stroke, heart failure, and preventing diabetes,” according to the report. Over 339,000 people were randomly assigned either exercise or a drug-based therapy in over 300 trials. The results: Between the two groups, there were no detectable differences in preventing diabetes or further heart-related events, and stroke patients benefited greatly from the exercise, which was not as positive for heart failure patients due to the strain of activity.
“Chronic diseases are the most common and costly of all health problems, but they are also the most preventable. Four common, health-damaging, but modifiable behaviors—tobacco use, insufficient physical activity, poor eating habits, and excessive alcohol use—are responsible for much of the illness, disability, and premature death related to chronic diseases,” according to the CDC. They list heart disease and stroke, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and obesity as the key chronic diseases.
As we face an uncertain health insurance environment, it’s a good thing to know that (1) many chronic conditions are preventable and (2) exercise is a great place to start for prevention.