Closest Thing to a Wonder Drug-The exercise Pill

In a meta-analysis published in the British Medical Journal by Stanford professor John Ioannidis, MD, DSc, culled data from more than 300 clinical trials, representing more than 300,000 individual patients. In comparing the effectiveness of exercise with various drug interventions to prevent mortality for patients with coronary heart disease or prediabetes, exercise and drug interventions appeared to have similar effects on mortality. However, for those recovering from a stroke, exercise led to better outcomes than drugs, while for those with previous heart failure, diuretics in particular prevented deaths more effectively than exercise or other drugs.

This point is reiterated in a well written piece by Aaron Carroll who is a nytimes writer on wellness and health.

…………Let’s start with musculoskeletal diseases. Researchers found 32 trials looking specifically at the effect of exercise on pain and function of patients with osteoarthritis of the knee alone. That’s incredibly specific, and it’s impressive that so much research has focused on one topic.

Exercise improved those outcomes. Ten more studies showed, over all, that exercise therapy increases aerobic capacity and muscle strength in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Other studies proved its benefits in other musculoskeletal conditions, like ankylosing spondylitis, and even some types of back pain.

For people (mostly middle-aged men) who had had a heart attack, exercise therapy reduced all causes of mortality by 27 percent and cardiac mortality by 31 percent. Fourteen additional controlled trials showed physiological benefits in those with heart failure. Exercise has also been shown to lower blood pressure in patients with hypertension, and improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

People with diabetes who exercise have lower HbA1c values, which is the marker of blood sugar control, low enough to probably reduce the risk of complications from the disease. Twenty randomized controlled trials have showed that patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease can walk farther and function better if they exercise.

Multiple studies have found that exercise improves physical function and health-related quality of life in people who have Parkinson’s disease. Six more studies showed that exercise improves muscle power and mobility-related activities in people with multiple sclerosis. It also appeared to improve those patients’ moods.

The overall results of 23 randomized controlled trials showed that exercise most likely improves the symptoms of depression. Five others appear to show that it improves symptoms in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. In trials, exercise even lessened fatigue in patients who were having therapy for cancer.

What other intervention can claim results like these?

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