Exercise is the best medicine, study shows

July 11, 2014
Queensland University of Technology
Women would benefit from being prescribed exercise as medicine, according to a study that revealed moderate to high intensity activity is essential to reducing the risk of death in older women. “What we are saying is that high-intensity exercise is not only good for your physical health but also your brain health. Doctors should be developing exercise programs that are home-based and easy to incorporate as part of everyday activities,” authors say.

Working out 6 days a week, out of which 4 days is 45 min of cardio – running, cycling, swimming, walking – and 2 days of yoga, are the best combinations for heart and bone health. This lowers blood pressure, kills cancer cells, flushes out toxins, regulates metabolism, stabilises sugar levels in the blood, increases joint mobility, increases brain power and strengthens joints especially for those over 40 years of age. Due to all these benefits, the risk of death due to disease is reduced substantially.

Doing a combination of the above is better than going to a gym and getting a trainer, as a trainer focuses on body parts and not overall medical health of the person. Gym training has also led to serious injuries since the bone and medical history of the person needs to be taken into account before a regime is fixed.

Professor Anderson and QUT’s Dr Charlotte Seib co-authored a paper published in the international journal of midlife health and beyond, Maturitas, which pulls together five years of research looking into the impact of exercise on mental and physical health in women over the age of 50.

“When once we thought that 30 minutes of mild exercise a day was enough to improve health, research is now telling us that older women should be doing at least 30-45 minutes five times a week of moderate to high intensity exercise and by that we mean exercise that leaves you huffing and puffing. It’s important that the exercise be tailored to ensure that it is high intensity enough to obtain the positive sustained effects of exercise. Anderson said studies had shown that high intensity exercise over a sedentary lifestyle significantly reduced the risk of death. “Older adults who undertake regular physical activity also report significantly less disability, better physical function and that is regardless of their body mass,” she said. “The most active women are more likely to survive than the least physically active women.”

Professor Anderson said research also linked exercise to improvements in mental well-being. Doctors and caretakers need to develop home based exercise programs to incorporate as part of everyday activities.

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The above story is based on materials provided by Queensland University of Technology.

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