Exercise Appears to Be as Effective as Drugs for Fighting Disease
Researchers from the London School of Economics, Harvard and Stanford recently set out to prove what many health experts already know: Exercise really can cure disease.
The team argued that more trials comparing the benefits of exercise to drugs are needed in order to help doctors make the best treatment decisions for patients. So they did just that, assessing how physical activity or medication influenced four conditions: secondary prevention of coronary heart disease, rehabilitation of stroke, treatment of heart failure, and prevention of diabetes.
Few differences seen
Analyzing the results of 305 randomized controlled trials, the team's research involved studying more than 300,000 individuals.
They found there were no "statistically detectable differences" between physical activity and drug interventions for the prevention of heart disease or diabetes.
For stroke patients, exercise was found to be more effective than medication. And for heart failure, diuretic drugs were more effective than exercise or other types of drug treatments.
The researchers noted that the study might have a "blind spot" – the fact that evidence on the mortality benefits of exercise is smaller than the body of proof about drugs. This setback might prevent doctors and patients from understanding when certain circumstances could be improved from exercise rather than from drug therapies.
"In cases where drug options provide only modest benefit, patients deserve to understand the relative impact that physical activity might have on their condition," they wrote.
More trials that address the disparity between exercise and drug-based treatments will be helpful, they concluded.
Source: Science Daily