020516 The benefits of exercise are the same as when using drugs…in some cases

The benefits of exercise are the same as when using drugs…in some cases

Researchers examined and then reported in the British medical Journal the findings of 305 different studies of past clinical trials involving approximately 339,000 people. Each of these studies measured the effects that exercise or drugs had on four common health conditions:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Heart failure
  • High normal blood sugar prediabetes

They found the effects of exercise were just as great on three out of the four health conditions as medication interventions.

The primary findings indicated that the benefit of exercise, when compared to medication for people with clogged heart arteries, was about as robust as medication. For those people with prediabetes, drugs and exercise fared nearly the same each having a similar impact on the condition. They found that an exercise-based therapy program had more of an impact on the person than medication did during the recovery period after the stroke.

One health condition found in the studies where exercise was not as effective as medical intervention was in those with a weak heart (heart failure). In this instance, diuretics, more commonly referred to as water pills were more effective than exercise.

For all practical purposes, medication and exercise are rarely a one or the other choice because in reality each one can be useful in managing these diseases depending on the circumstances of each situation. The importance of this research emphasizes the value of incorporating regular exercise, along with drugs, in the treatment of these common chronic conditions.