Just another reason to exercise

We are all well aware of the importance of maintaining a physical lifestyle. However, did you know that exercise may be able to reduce risk of mortality for patients of some diseases? Based on research that was recently published in BMJ, those who are suffering from certain diseases can experience major benefits from working out.1

The study
Professionals from the London School of Economics and Political Science, Harvard Medical School and Stanford University were all involved in this investigation. Using data from the Medline and Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, the number of mortalities suffered by patients who had experienced heart disease, heart failure, stroke and prediabetes were tracked.2

In total, 305 randomized controlled trials were conducted, including more than 339,000 participants. Of those individuals, 14,716 were placed in physical activity interventions in more than 57 of the included trials. Other patients received drug treatments for their conditions.

For those who suffered from stroke, exercise was seen to be a better intervention than medications. However, for those who had suffered heart failure, diuretics were seen to be the most beneficial to patients. Based on all of the data that was collected, researchers were able to conclude that exercise was similarly effective compared to drugs for secondary prevention of coronary heart disease, rehab following a stroke, treating heart failure and preventing diabetes.

What it means
Although further research is required on the topic, patients who are suffering from these conditions may well benefit from a decreased risk for mortality if they are able to fit exercise into their daily routines.

"In cases where drug options provide only modest benefit, patients deserve to understand the relative impact that physical activity might have on their condition," researchers said of their findings.

There are a number of health benefits that are associated with working out, including:3

  • Weight maintenance
  • Weight loss
  • Improved quality of life
  • Strengthened bones and muscles
  • Arthritis relief
  • Improved mental health
  • Increased strength, reducing risk for falls in seniors
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Better cholesterol levels

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1 LiveScience, "Exercise may be as effective as drugs for some diseases" October 1, 2013
2 BMJ, "Comparative effectiveness of exercise and drug interventions on mortality outcomes: meta-epidemiological study" October 1, 2013
3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Physical activity and health" February 16, 2011

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