Can exercise replace pills?
A team of researchers contends that exercise can be as effective as pills for conditions such as heart disease, and actually should be added to a treatment plan as a prescription. The study, published in the British Medical Journal, doesn’t go so far as to suggest that people stop taking their pills, but recommends strongly that patients should add exercise and use both in tandem.
For the study, researchers looked at hundreds of trials involving nearly 340,000 patients to assess the merits of exercise and drugs in preventing death. They found that exercise rivaled some heart drugs and outperformed stroke medication.
The scientists, from the London School of Economics, Harvard Medical School and Stanford University School of Medicine, analyzed medical research that compared exercise with pills as therapy. They identified 305 trials and looked at managing conditions such as heart disease, stroke rehabilitation, heart failure and pre-diabetes.
Overall, they found that exercise and drugs were comparable as treatments in terms of death rates, but they did note two exceptions: Diuretics were the best treatment in terms of increasing the life expectancy for heart failure patients, but exercise was the best treatment for stroke patients.