Exercise is Medicine: Why Staying Fit Can Prevent Disease

club fit columnBy Sarah Sowards

What would you be willing to do to obtain a treatment that could help prevent Type 2 diabetes, dementia, pulmonary disease, hypertension, heart failure, cystic fibrosis, hyperlipidemia, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, asthma, depression, anxiety, obesity, Parkinson’s and many other ailments?

What if this treatment could also make you happier, less stressed, increase your sleep quality and help you live longer? Would you invest in research for this treatment? Would you ask your doctor to prescribe it for you?

Well, they have been – for centuries. Hippocrates himself wrote two books outlining the case for using this “treatment” to maintain one’s health. Countless studies in years since have also demonstrated evidence that this treatment is ridiculously good for you, with its effects improving almost all aspects of your life.

Fortunately, this treatment is easily accessible to everyone. Would you be willing to try it? If so, we will see you soon because this treatment is not a vitamin or medication. It’s exercise.

We understand that life can easily get in the way of a consistent exercise routine. However, it must be stressed just how critical frequent physical activity is for one’s overall health and longevity. According to the World Health Organization, lifestyle (exercise, diet, substance use, stress levels) is linked to as much as 70 percent of disease burden. The Aging Research Group reported 55 percent of disease in people 60 years old and up were preventable through certain lifestyle changes, in particular increasing one’s physical activity.

One in 10 premature deaths in the world are related to lack of exercise, a statistic that is almost identical to deaths related to smoking. Considering we have the ability to make time to exercise, thereby preventing and reducing a large percentage of disease burden, why are we not exercising more? Why are we not prioritizing it and making the time? An overwhelming amount of research clearly indicates physical activity is essential to our health. We know how great it is for us.

A longitudinal study done at The Aerobic Center found that fitness improvements, specifically those in cardiorespiratory fitness, showed a greater effect on the longevity of those with diabetes, even when compared to pharmacological interventions.

A meta-analysis examining the relevant literature established when compared to actual medications concluded that exercise was just as effective in preventing heart disease and diabetes and treating heart failure. Exercise was also more effective than drugs for helping rehabilitate stroke survivors. JAMA Internal Medicine even declared, “There is no medication treatment that can influence as many organ systems in a positive manner as can physical activity.”

Your doctor can lecture you at every visit. I can communicate every research finding out there. Your spouse can remind you; your children and friends can encourage you, but ultimately, you are responsible for your own health.

So, no more excuses. Let’s take our medicine. Let’s take care of ourselves. Let’s lift some weights, get the cardio in, take a class, go for a swim. Whatever it is, let’s do it. Exercise is medicine. I’ll be taking mine, and I sincerely hope you take yours too. We’ll see you out there!

Get started today. Contact Club Fit’s Jefferson Valley location at 914-250-2750 or at jvadvisor@clubfit.com or the Briarcliff Manor location at 914-250-2134 or  bravisor@clubfit.com.

Sarah Sowards is a club experience assistant at Club Fit.