Exercise As Effective As Drugs For Treating Heart Disease, Diabetes

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Zia Soleil

Forget the pills — there’s new evidence that exercise may be as effective as medications in treating heart disease and diabetes.

Doctors now advise everyone, from young children to older adults, to become more physically active. It’s the best way to maintain a healthy weight, keep the heart muscle strong, and improve your mental outlook. But can exercise be as good as drugs in actually preventing disease and treating serious chronic illnesses?

That’s what researchers from the London School of Economics, Harvard Medical School and Stanford University School of Medicine wanted to find out. They compared the effect of exercise to that of drug therapy on four different health outcomes: heart disease, recovery from stroke, heart failure treatment and preventing diabetes.

The scientists pooled the results of 305 trials involving 339,274 people who were randomly assigned to either an exercise program or a drug-based therapy and found that there were no detectable differences between the two groups when it came to preventing diabetes and keeping additional events at bay for heart patients. And the physical activity was most powerful for participants who experienced a stroke. The only group that didn’t benefit from the exercise over drugs were patients with heart failure, likely because the strain of the physical activity wasn’t recommended for their condition.

(MORE: Exercise Alone Can Melt Away Dangerous Belly Fat in Diabetics)

The findings involving diabetes patients confirmed previous trials that documented how effective physical activity can be in bringing blood sugar levels down.

So why do most doctors prescribe drugs over exercise? There are more rigorous studies testing the effectiveness of drug therapies to treat common diseases, say the study authors, than there are studies that test the power of exercise. With these results, however, the researchers hope to see more work on how exercise can be a significant part of a treatment program for diseases ranging from heart problems to diabetes.

Those studies will need to analyze physical activity in the same way that drugs are studied, to determine how much exercise is needed to trigger beneficial changes in the body that can treat or prevent disease.

Currently, to maintain optimum health, federal experts recommend that people exercise at a moderate intensity for about 2.5 hours a week. But fewer than half of Americans meet that recommendation, and a third of Americans don’t get any exercise at all. The latest findings should encourage even those who aren’t active, however, since research shows even just talking a brisk walk can help lower the risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, and be as powerful as medications in keeping the body healthy.

6 comments
siddharthsaini
siddharthsaini

Anybody can reveal the causes with a little knowledge. Everyone is as it is aware of anything as hazardous as heart attack. But barely anyone would be aware of the exercises helping you get rid of some particular heart disease. If you don't feel energetic, get tired easily, dread taking stairs due to breathlessness and have anytime in past felt your chest tightening, then, your heart might be struggling with Aortic stenosis.” (wiki). Aortic stenosis, in simple terms, is narrowing of heart valve which makes heart work extra to pump blood up. The heart valve stiffens and fails to open up fully. As a result, the heart exerts more, and with time, heart muscles start thickening. This reduces amount of blood collected in ventricle (heart chamber) causing breathlessness or even fainting. Aortic stenosis is the most common valvular disease with frequency of occurrence 2-7% of population over 65 years of age. These heart issues often go unnoticed and when you scroll down to the symptoms section, you’ll realize why. http://workouttrends.com/fatal-heart-condition-exercise-can-reveal

tgroves
tgroves

It's a shame the article didn't provide details or a link to the actual study. It's here, and is openly accessible to everyone:

Naci H ,Ioannidis JPA. Comparative effectiveness of exercise and drug interventions on mortality outcomes: metaepidemiological study. BMJ 2013;347:f5577

http://www.bmj.com/content/347/bmj.f5577

Dr Trish Groves, Head of Research, BMJ

PhytoProf
PhytoProf

There are safer and more effective alternatives to drugs to treat Type 2 Diabetes.  One, that can also be used with drugs such as Metformin, is Resveratrol.  In two recently published human clinical trials done by respected medical schools it was shown that transmax resveratrol in the first study, and bioforte resveratrol in the second one, had the effect of reducing blood glucose, improving insulin sensitivity, lowering blood pressure and LDL cholesterol, and even lowering body weight.  The scientist who did the transmax study stated, "Resveratrol can be an effective adjunct therapy for type 2 Diabetics currently using one of the Metformin like drugs, or who are controlling their Diabetes without drugs." 

RichardFlemming
RichardFlemming

There are far better options to drugs for protecting one's health and increasing one's life span.  Read the hot new book on Amazon by Dr Betz, titled "Is there a limit to human life span?" Betz offers a relative simple painless way to prevent most chronic disease well into one's 90s based upon the latest proven scientific findings about ageing and how to prevent it. 

fifteenwaitfifteen
fifteenwaitfifteen

You say "diabetes" throughout this article, but never distinguish the type. Type 1 (insulin dependent, pancreas not working) diabetes is far different in it causes, risks, and outcomes than Type 2. Please stop confusing people. Taking a "brisk walk" will NOT reduce your risk for Type 1 diabetes.

Yoshi
Yoshi

I wonder, without studies as the article describes, hw the federal "experts" have come up with that two-and-a-half-hour figure?  I get in there at least every other day for an hour as recommended by my doctor (who has been very sharp).