We all know we need to get moving, but new research gives us one more reason to stay or become active. According to a large review published in the British Medical Journal this week, researchers from Harvard University, Stanford University, and Britain’s London School of Economics found that exercise was more effective than prescription drugs for stroke recovery. The researchers assessed 305 studies of 340,000 people. They also found no statistical differences between exercise and drugs for people suffering from heart disease or prediabetic symptoms.
Considering the high cost of many prescription drugs and the potentially serious health risks, exercise is an essential part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It has been shown to reduce the risk of colon and breast cancer, depression, the risk of bone fractures, obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.
The World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for death and causes approximately 3.2 million deaths worldwide every year.
The researchers recommend that doctors write prescriptions for exercise, which seems to be having an effect on communities like Leduc, Alberta, Canada. Doctors in the community recognized the power of the prescription pad and put it to work to get the community in shape. For the last year doctors handed out “Prescriptions to Get Active” with information regarding the specific exercise type, intensity, and duration for each patient.
Over 200 patients followed the doctors’ advice and took advantage of the community center’s offer for free exercise for a month. Thirty percent of those who signed up for the free membership continued after the month was over. Others may be continuing their exercise program on their own or through other means. The participants were also given free time with an exercise specialist to help people gain a better understanding of the facility’s exercise equipment and using it.
According to Dr. Justin Balko, medical doctor and president of the Leduc Beaumont Devon Primary Care Network, he was inspired by research he read in New Zealand medical journals that showed prescription for exercise increased physical activity in adults by ten percent for at least a year in that country.
At Toronto Rehab hospital, doctors found that patients who have heart disease and exercise regularly reduce their risk of dying from the disease than those who don’t work out.