Exercise Is The Best Medicine

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This post was contributed by:

Meihua Li, a Pharm.D. candidate class of 2017, Touro College of Pharmacy, with a Ph.D. in Pharmacy from Seoul National University, South Korea

If you are a healthcare provider, if there was a prescription that could prevent and treat many diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity, would you prescribe it to your patients? Exercise is one of the most effective and affordable medicines, and the benefits of exercise are far beyond control of body weight.

The Exercise is Medicine program was launched at 2007 by the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Medical Association, and the Office of the Surgeon General to mobilize physicians, healthcare professionals and providers, and educators to promote exercise in their practice or activities to prevent, reduce, manage, or treat diseases that impact health and the quality of life.Exercise is the best prescription to prevent dozens of diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and osteoporosis. Regular exercise boosts good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein) and decreases unhealthy triglycerides and eventually decreases risk of cardiovascular diseases [1]. Evidence shows that regular exercise and weight reduction can prevent type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) in high-risk individuals [2].

Exercise therapy not only prevents diseases, but it is also helpful for treatment of common chronic diseases. Recent studies demonstrate that a combination of aerobic and resistance exercise can reduce the metabolic risk factors in cancer survivors and in hypertensive patients [3]. Furthermore, physical exercise performed in childhood and adolescence prevents the development of diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia and arterial hypertension during adulthood [4].
Exercise is best prescription to prevent depression and anxiety and improve mental health.

Exercise improves depressive symptoms in people with a diagnosis of depression when compared with no control intervention [5]. Exercise has the beneficial effects on brain health by neurogenesis, increasing synaptic plasticity, regulation of growth factors and reduction of peripheral and central risk factors [6]. Furthermore, exercise reduces both markers of inflammation and oxidative stress which involved in neurodegenerative diseases and bipolar disease [7].

Besides improving physical and mental health, exercise also increases relaxation, improves mood, inspires others and improves quality of life [1]. We all experience stress in daily life and the good news is that regular exercise is the one of best medicines to improve emotional health. Physical inactivity is one of the most important public health problems of 21st century [8]. Worldwide, physical inactivity causes 6% of the global burden of disease from coronary heart disease, 7% of type II diabetes, and 10% of breast and colon cancer cases [9].

The Physical Activity Guidelines recommend getting 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity for healthy adults, such as brisk walking, or one hour and 15 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, such as jogging [10]. Everybody needs exercise regardless of age or sex. Let us start today!


[1] Mayoclinic. Exercise: 7 benefits of regular physical activity. Available at:http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048389?pg=1Accessed 5/2/2015
[2] Ades PA. A lifestyle program of exercise and weight loss is effective in preventing andtreating type 2 diabetes mellitus: Why are programs not more available? Prev Med. 2015 [Epubahead of print]
[3] Stefani L, Maffulli N, Mascherini G, Francini L, Petri C, Galanti G. Exercise as prescriptiontherapy: benefits in cancer and hypertensive patients. Transl Med UniSa. 2015;11:39-43.
[4] Fernandes RA, Coelho-e-silva MJ, Spiguel lima MC, Cayres SU, Codogno JS, Lira FS.Possible underestimation by sports medicine of the effects of early physical exercise practice onthe prevention of diseases in adulthood. Curr Diabetes Rev. 2015 [Epub ahead of print]
[5] Peterson JC, Charlson ME, Wells MT, Altemus M. Depression, coronary artery disease, andphysical activity: how much exercise is enough? Clin Ther. 2014;36(11):1518-30.
[6] Cotman CW, Berchtold NC, Christie LA. Exercise builds brain health: key roles of growthfactor cascades and inflammation. Trends Neurosci. 2007;30(9):464-72.
[7] Thomson D, Turner A, Lauder S, et al. A brief review of exercise, bipolar disorder, andmechanistic pathways. Front Psychol. 2015;6:147.
[8] Blair SN. Physical activity: the biggest health problem of the 21st century. Br. J. Sports Med.2009;43:1-2.
[9] EIM. Physical activity-far reaching! Available at:http://exerciseismedicine.org/support_page.php?p=3Accessed 5/2/2015[10] CDC. How much physical activity do adults need? Available at:http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/adults.htmlAccessed 5/2/2015.


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