Specialist agrees that exercise is as “potent” as medicine.

By Caribbean Medical News Staff

ISSA certified personal trainer, Pedro Forte says that he agrees with the recent BMJ study which suggests that exercises can be as effective as prescribed drugs.

“My personal studies suggest that exercise can delay the onset of many debilitating diseases. In addition, people who have exercised for years can feel and function as well as someone thirty years their junior dependent upon individual circumstances. Exercise is critical alongside a balanced diet and decreased stress, in remaining healthy for years. Some pharmaceuticals do not make as significant a contribution as does exercise or exercise and medication combined. Weneed to get moving”, said Pedro Forte, ISSA trained specialist.

The BMJ Study was released in October and researchers compared how well pharmaceutical drugs and exercise had reduced deaths among people diagnosed with some common and other more severe conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

The results consistently showed that drugs and exercise produced almost exactly the same results.

“Caribbean people of years gone by did a lot of walking, working in the fields and of necessity had to move and work. Though it was hard work, that along with a balanced diet of ground provisions and fruit and vegetables kept them alive for longer. There was less stress as well.Today we drive everywhere, sit in front of a laptop all day, we spend all evening on an iPad but I have never seen an obese centenarian in Barbados”, he remarked.

“Today’s poor diet, sedentary lifestyle combined with pharmaceutical drugs should be addressed. I am not advocating that people get off their medication at all. I think doctors,  exercise therapists and certified personal trainers can work together to make sure that people with debilitating diseases can manage the same by being active and those not yet diagnosed may prolong the onset of, for example, diabetes. Exercise and a good diet have been shown to delay everything from dementia to diabetes, we must take this seriously. The evidence of this study suggests that exercise is critical, it is a priority”, said Forte.

Huseyin Naci, a graduate student at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and Dr John Ioannidis, the director of the Stanford Prevention Research Centre at the Stanford University School of Medicine compared the efficacy of drugs and exercise in decreasingmortality among people who had been diagnosed with one of four diseases – heart disease, chronic heart failure, stroke or diabetes. In addition, Naci and Ioannidis gathered all of the recent randomized controlled trials, as well as previous reviews and meta-analyses of older experiments relating to mortality among patients with those diseases, whether they had been treated with drugs or exercise, according to reports.

According to the Study, exercise can be as effective as frequently prescribed drugs and this begs the question of whether our regional and international healthcare systems pay enough attention to activity as part of their treatment as opposed to medication alone.

The report also indicated that scientists often will monitor how well one drug treats a conditioncompared with the outcome if they use a different drug. However, very few studies have been done which compare drugs with exercise. The study showed that individuals with heart diseasewho exercised but did not use commonly prescribed medications, had the same risk of dying from (or surviving ) heart disease as patients taking those drugs. Likewise, diabetics who exercised had the same risk of dying from the complications of, or the condition itself, as those taking their prescribed medication.

Importantly, those with chronic heart failure did not benefit noticeably with exercise but diuretics were found to be more effective and this kept mortality at bay.

Ioannidis said to the NY Times, “our results suggest that exercise can be quite potent” in treating heart disease and the other conditions, equaling the lifesaving benefits available from most of the commonly prescribed drugs, including statins.

“I have often recommended exercise and diet alongside whatever the physician has prescribed. The laws of individual differences and the severity of the illness determine what type of exercise regimen is prescribed for those who are ailing. I certainly have seen significant improvement in diabetics, asthmatics and hypertensives. Prevention is still better than cure nonetheless,” said Forte.



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