Physical activity is considered a miracle treatment with almost all long-term diseases or conditions, including aging. But it is even more important in the prevention of these diseases, especially those afflicting modern society such as metabolic syndrome, obesity, depression, heart disease, sleep deprivation, stress-related health problems, anxiety, diabesity (diabetes and obesity combined) and dementia. If activity was a drug, it would be considered a wonder drug. It is an intervention that can help prevent and treat almost all chronic diseases. The effect of exercise across many diseases or conditions is generally similar or better than the medications traditionally used to treat them.
A recent report by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges highlights findings of more recent studies and makes recommendations to be more active.
The Big Four causes of prevent- able ill health are smoking, poor nutrition, inactivity, and alcohol. Relatively low levels of increased activity can make a large difference. All of the evidence suggests that small amounts of regular exercise ( ve times per week for 30 minutes at high to moderate intensity; sweating, puffing and increased heart rate) brings dramatic bene ts. It also prevents Type 2 Diabetes, dementia, some cancers, depression, anxiety, heart disease, and other common conditions. The treatment effect is reported to be 30 percent or more; more effective than com- mon drugs.
A lack of exercise is one of the top four causes of death. Studies of cyclists show that their DNA or physiological age is actually significantly younger than their real or chronological age.
As well as insufficient levels of physical activity evident in the general population, over 66 percent of people over the age of 65 fail to meet the required exercise guidelines. Muscle loss, risk of falls, loss of bone density and other factors can lead to a loss of function and reduced quality of life, especially in the elderly. In addition, low levels of physical activity increase the risk of almost every chronic health condition.
Exercise can also facilitate socializing, engaging in the out- doors, finding flow or engagement and sense of achievement from goal attainment. These are four of the ve pillars of wellbeing advocated by world leading positive psychologist Martin Seligman.
Because exercise and the associated bene ts it brings will allow us to live longer – with a higher quality of life – and because the evidence is overwhelming; it might be considered to be a miracle treatment.
The evidence is overwhelming: exercise boosts our body and our brain. It is protective and a treatment for almost all chronic conditions. It adds quality years to our lives.
The following conditions have been identified by the PHYIOFITT workgroup as those considered most common and appropriate for PHYSIOFITTprogrammes. HealthPathways has a GP focused sheet, a modified version is listed on HealthInfo for patients. They are also available from www.healthpathways.org.nz
• Angina Atrial Fibrillation
• Chronic Fatigue
• Cystic Fibrosis
• Intermittent Cl.
• Mild Traumatic Brain injury
• Aging and sarcopenia
• Hyper tension
• Mild Traumatic Brain
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