A large meta-analysis of hundreds of trials, involving roughly 340,000 patients, has found that physical activity can be as effective as medication for preventing mortality in certain illnesses. This study, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), assessed the relative effectiveness of exercise and drugs in avoiding death in existing heart disease,
stroke rehabilitation, heart failure and pre-diabetes. It found that physical activity rivals some heart drugs in these terms, and outperforms stroke medicine.
It has been suggested that exercise should be added to prescriptions.
Roberts, M. (2013). Exercise ‘can be as good as pills’. London: BBC Health News, October 2nd 2013.
See also the NHS Choices appraisal of this research:
Could exercise be as effective as medication? London: NHS Choices; Behind the Headlines, October 2nd 2013.
“For many chronic diseases, a combination of exercise and drugs is the most effective way to either treat or prevent a condition”.
This relates to:
Naci, H. [and] Ioannidis, JPA. (2013). Comparative effectiveness of exercise and drug interventions on mortality outcomes: metaepidemiological study. British Medical Journal (BMJ). Epub ahead of print, October 1st 2013.
Walking For Health (Ramblers and Macmillan Cancer Support)
Walking more ‘would save thousands’ of lives in the UK. London: BBC Health News, October 7th 2013.
Pre-Diabetes: Meaningless or Useful Concept?
Possibly of incidental interest, UK and US researchers writing in the BMJ have asserted that labelling people as having pre-diabetes is unhelpful and unnecessary:
Briggs, H. (2014). Pre-diabetes label ‘worthless’, researchers claim. London: BBC Health News, July 16th 2014.