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Exercise Prevents Heart Disease as Effective as Expensive Medication

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Did you know that exercise is one of the safest, most effective ways to prevent and treat chronic diseases such as heart disease?

This common-sense advice was again confirmed in a meta-review conducted by researchers at Harvard University and Stanford University,1 which compared the effectiveness of exercise versus drug interventions on mortality outcomes for four common conditions:
  • Diabetes
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Heart failure
  • Stroke

After reviewing 305 randomized controlled trials, which included nearly 339,300 people, they found "no statistically detectable differences" between physical activity and medications for prediabetes and heart disease.

Exercise was also found to be more effective than drugs after you've had a stroke. The only time drugs beat exercise was for the recovery from heart failure, in which case diuretic medicines produced a better outcome.

The drugs assessed in the studies included:
  • Statins and beta blockers for coronary heart disease
  • Diuretics and beta blockers for heart failure
  • Anticoagulants and antiplatelets for stroke
Exercise Should Be Included as Comparison in Drug Development Studies

You will increase the risk of developing pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes if you continue eating laThe featured review is a potent reminder of the power of simple lifestyle changes, as well as the shortcomings of the drug paradigm. If you're interested in living a longer, healthier life, nothing will beat proper diet and exercise.

Exercise is in fact so potent, the researchers suggested that drug companies ought to be required to include it for comparison when conducting clinical trials for new drugs! As reported by Bloomberg:2

"The analysis adds to evidence showing the benefit of non-medical approaches to disease through behavior and lifestyle changes.

Given the cost of drug treatment, regulators should consider requiring pharmaceutical companies to include exercise as a comparator in clinical trials of new medicines, according to authors Huseyin Naci of Harvard and John Ioannidis of Stanford.

'In cases where drug options provide only modest benefit, patients deserve to understand the relative impact that physical activity might have on their condition,' Naci and Ioannidis said in the published paper. In the meantime, 'exercise interventions should therefore be considered as a viable alternative to, or, alongside, drug therapy.'"

There are glimmers of hope that change is possible, slow and begrudging as it may be. Dean Ornish, founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, spent 16 years proving that a vegetarian diet along with exercise and stress management is more effective than conventional care for the treatment of heart disease.

And, as of January 2011, Medicare actually began covering the Ornish Spectrum—Reversing Heart Disease program,3 under the benefit category of "intensive cardiac rehabilitation."