Prescription Drugs vs. Exercise

One of my favorite statements by people I work with is “I am not a drug taker (or person), doctor”.  This is most commonly stated as I am reviewing their list of eighteen plus medications.  Through no fault of their own, they perceive that those medications they do take are not “drugs”. Modern medicine has always preached the benefits of drugs over most, if not all, other potential interventions as far as outcomes are concerned.  This viewpoint was recently contested in a rather large meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials involving 305 studies and 339,274 participants.  Researchers found that exercise affects outcomes as well as, if not better than, prescription drugs for coronary heart disease, pre-diabetes, and stroke.  In only one specific incidence of disease did prescription drugs triumph, and that was in a condition (that was looked at) called congestive heart failure.  This does not mean anyone taking prescription medications should stop and join the gym.  Medication changes should always be discussed with your doctor.  It does, however, emphasize the point that we were made to move, not only to prevent disease and improve our quality of life, but also to treat disease and increase our quantity of life.  So, whether you’re a drug taker (or person) or not, exercise should be a part of your daily routine.    


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