Exercise can be as beneficial as pills according to new study

Those suffering from such conditions as heart disease can get as much benefit from exercise as they can from pills a new study has discovered. The study, which appears in the British Medical Journal, concentrated on hundreds of trials that involved almost 340,000 patients in order to asses the merits of both drugs and exercise when it came to preventing death.

Regular physical activity rivalled many of popular heart drugs for results and actually outperformed stroke medications. The researchers have said that these findings strongly suggest that exercise needs to be added to prescriptions. The experts did stress, however, that patients should not stop taking their drugs in favour of exercise, but should use them both.

There are too many adults in the UK who are not getting enough exercise. Only 1/3 of people in England are doing the recommended amount of at least 2.5 hours of moderately intense activity ever week. Fast walking and cycling are two such activities that are recommended to hit this target.

In sharp contrast the the rates of prescription drugs continues to rise. In 2010, every person in England was given an average 17.7 prescriptions over the year, compared to 2000’s figures of 11.2.

As part of their study, the scientists from Stanford University, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute at Harvard Medical School and the London School of Economics trawled through medical literature for any past research that compared pills with exercise as therapy. They identified 305 trials that they would include in the analysis, and these trials looked at the management of conditions such as stroke rehabilitation, heart disease, pre-diabetes and heart failure.

On studying the overall data, they discovered that drugs and exercise where comparable when it came to death rates. There are two notable exceptions; Drugs known as diuretics were a clear winner for patients with heart failure while exercise is the best therapy for stroke patients when it comes to life expectancy.