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Wonder Drug

Posted 7/22/2016

Posted in

  I will begin by admitting that the title of this piece, Wonder Drug, is sort of a bait and switch tactic. The so-called drug in question is exercise. Before you hit "delete" or move away from the page, let me say that I have never been an athlete, that I rarely enjoy my daily exercise, that I have never experienced those famous endorphins that are supposed to flood long-distance runners. I have run a marathon, and it was an exercise to convince myself that I could do whatever I needed to do. For that self-confidence goal, it worked.

  As I have gotten older, I have reluctantly stopped running (and it was wonderful exercise because it was fast and I could do it from home. Now I go to the gym almost every morning, and I never really enjoy it, but I know it is part of what is keeping me healthy. On a more immediate level, it keeps my weight at least stable (having long ago given up on loss) and surely improves the aches and pains and stiffness that the anti-estrogen treatment brings.

  From The New York Times: 

Closest Thing to a Wonder Drug? Try Exercise
Aaron E. Carroll

After I wrote last year that diet, not exercise, was the key to weight loss, I was troubled by how some readers took this to mean that exercise therefore had no value.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Of all the things we as physicians can recommend for health, few
provide as much benefit as physical activity.
In 2015, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges put out a report calling exercise a “miracle cure.” This isn’t a
conclusion based simply on some cohort or case-control studies. There are many, many randomized controlled trials. A huge meta-analysis examined the effect of exercise therapy on outcomes in people with chronic diseases.
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’simpressive 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.

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