The benefits of regular exercise are quite outrageous. Exercise has been called the ‘wonder’ drug and a ‘miracle’ cure. Research indicates that regular exercise is effective in the prevention and treatment of many common diseases including type 2 diabetes, some cancers, dementia, depression, heart disease and other common serious conditions. Regular exercise is estimated to reduce the risk of each of these conditions by at least 30%. This is better than many drugs. Exercise improves brain health, body function and life expectancy. You will also feel and function better both in the short term and long term. Furthermore, exercise is less expensive than drugs and a lot more accessible!
Exercise is Medicine
So, it’s true that ‘Exercise is Medicine’: This concept that ‘Exercise is Medicine’ was started by the American College of Sports Medicine and is being adopted worldwide by other countries. Many studies now confirm the effectiveness of exercise and the ever-increasing understanding of its health benefits. If only we could bottle it up and take it like a pill. It would be so much more convenient! But the best and most rewarding things in life often take our attention and effort. Your body was made to move on a regular basis: this is why we as humans have long levers such as arms and legs that allow as to walk, run and move over distances. Unlike other factors such as genetics, exercise is a behavior that we can control and modify immediately. That’s a good thing! However, it also means we need to do something about it and take responsibility.
So how much do you need to exercise?
Federal guidelines based on research, recommend that adults need to exercise at a moderate intensity for a minimum of 150 minutes a week to be effective in achieving the health benefits of exercise. This can be 30 minutes of physical activity most days, although the 30 minutes can be broken into three 10-intervals if need. Do you achieve the recommended standards on most weeks? There is a chance you may not. Population surveys in western countries such as the USA, Australia, and Canada for example, indicate that ~50% or less of the adult population (18 years and over) achieve 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week: this percentage is even less with increased age and especially for women.
Could you be more active and less sedentary than you are currently? If you don’t exercise regularly, what’s your barrier to this amazing wonder drug? What’s going to change your behaviour to increase activity and decrease sedentary time? It’s up to you. It may not be as hard as you think. It’s simply a choice followed by consistent and regular action, 30 minutes at a time.
Academy of Royal Medical Colleges. Exercise—the miracle cure. 2015. www.aomrc.org.uk/general-news/exercise-the-miracle-cure.html
American College of Sports Medicine, https://www.acsm.org/acsm-positions-policy/physical-activity-guidelines-for-americans
MacAuley, D., et al. (2015). “Exercise: not a miracle cure, just good medicine.” British Medical Journal 350: h1416.
Naci, H. and J. P. Ioannidis (2013). “Comparative effectiveness of exercise and drug interventions on mortality outcomes: metaepidemiological study.” British Medical Journal 347: f5577.