Exercise is Medicine: The Benefits of Exercise

From www.exerciseismedicine.org

The Problem

Physical inactivity is a fast-growing public health problem and contributes to a variety of chronic diseases and health complications, including obesity, diabetes and cancer.  In addition to improving a patient’s overall health, increasing physical activity has proven effective in the treatment and prevention of chronic disease.  Even with all the benefits of physical activity, in the US and many other countries, levels of inactivity are alarming.  We are facing what is now referred to as an “inactivity epidemic,” with tremendous costs.

More than 56% of adults do not meet the recommendations of 150 minutes per week of activity. In a study of older adolescents and adults in the US, participants spend almost 8 hours a day in sedentary behaviors, while as much as 36% of adults engaged in no leisure-time physical activity at all. In fact, a study in 2008 shows that physical inactivity costs the US Health Care System $330 per person each year, which equals more than $102 billions annually.

The Benefits

Many research studies have shown the benefits of regular physical activities. The US Federal Physical Guidelines and many studies show that 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity activity is required to achieve these health benefits.

  1. Regular exercise can:
    1. Reduce mortality and the risk of recurrent breast cancer by 50%.
    2. Lower the risk of colon cancer by over 60%.
    3. Reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by approximately 40%.
    4. Reduce the incidence of heart disease and high blood pressure by approximately 40%.
    5. Lower the risk of stroke by 27%.
    6. Lower the risk of developing type II diabetes by 58%.
    7. Be twice as effective in treating type II diabetes that the standard insulin prescription and can save $2250 per person per year when compared to the cost of standard drug therapy.
    8. Can decrease depression as effectively as Prozac or behavioral therapy.
    9. Research shows that a low level of physical activity exposes a patient to a greater risk of dying than does smoking, obesity, hypertension, or high cholesterol and for older men, regular exercise can decrease the risk of death by 40%.
    10. Active individuals in their 80s have a lower risk of death than inactive individuals in their 60s.
    11. Adults with better muscle strength have a 20% lower risk of mortality (33% lower risk of cancer specific mortality) than adults with low muscle strength.
    12. A low level of fitness is a bigger risk factor for mortality than mild-moderate obesity. It is better to be fit and overweight than unfit with a lower percentage of body fat.
    13. Regular physical activity has been shown to lead to a higher SAT scores for adolescents.
    14. In an elementary school setting, regular physical activity can decrease discipline incidents involving violence by 59% and decrease out of school suspensions by 67%.

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