9 Reasons Why Exercise May Be the Best Medicine

Forms of Exercise

There is no debate, regular exercise is vital for maintaining health and wellness.  Again and again, research confirms that everyone can benefit from physical activity.  Want to live a long, healthy life?  Your chances of doing so are far better if you regularly work your body.  According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, regular physical activity has been shown to reduce mortality rates of many chronic diseases. Additionally, many illnesses and health ailments can be improved, or even prevented, by engaging in regular physical activity. [1]

1. May Improve Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms

Chronic fatigue syndrome is characterized by endless fatigue that is not satisfied by sleep or rest.  The disease is, by definition, very debilitating and some people suffer from symptoms for years. Most people do not find relief from pharmaceuticals, and even alternative remedies fall short.  However, as part of a comprehensive approach, Fort Belvoir Community Hospital recommends exercise therapy for improving fatigue and secondary symptoms of chronic fatigue synedrome. [2]

2. Puts Insomniacs to Bed

The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center found that exercise improved insomniac tendencies in persons with major depressive disorder.  Which symptoms?  Most of them.  Participants in the study reported improvements in mood and sleep quality and researchers concluded that exercise therapy was a recommendation-worthy therapy. [3]

3. Supports Healthy Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a very individual and personal experience; you should always consult with your healthcare provider before making any drastic lifestyle changes when you’re pregnant so take this as food for thought.  Research has shown that pregnant women who participate in mild to moderate exercise have better heart and lung fitness, are less likely to experience urinary incontinence, have fewer symptoms of depression, gain less weight, and have fewer incidence of gestational diabetes! [4]

4. Softens Aging

Diet and a sedentary lifestyle are huge contributors to the steady, physical deterioration that is often associated with age.  Don’t settle for it!  Evidence repeatedly shows that improvement in physical fitness lessens the risk of age related diseases, including mental diseases like dementia and Parkinson’’s disease. [5]

For a low-impact, easy-to-do routine, many older folks enjoy Tai Chi.  The Tufts University School of Medicine reports that Tai Chi can help improve rheumatological conditions by enhancing fitness, strength, balance, and overall physical function.  Those are just the physical effects.  Mentally, Tai Chi has been cited a stress reliever, anxiety reducer, and quality of life improver. [6]

5. Improves Mental Health

One of the largest, recurrent benefits of regular exercise is that it reduces stress and improves mood. This can be helpful for everyone, but especially persons with depression for whom pharmaceuticals do not work or are not preferred. [7] The Department of Kinesiology at the University of Georgia confirms that people who maintain a healthy heart and lungs into and through their middle ages report less incidence of depression. [8] However, it’s better to start early.  Research conducted by the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Section at the University of Michigan found that adolescents who suffer from depression showed significant improvement after engaging in aerobic exercise. [9]

The Netherlands’ Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience conducted a clinical trial to examine the effects of exercise on patients with schizophrenia and discovered that exercise therapy performed at least twice a week increased cardiovascular fitness and reduced symptoms of schizophrenia, including depression. [10]

6. Fights Antidepressants’ Libido Depression

The University of Texas at Austin conducted a study involving 47 women who reported sexual arousal problems caused by antidepressants.  Researchers had the women watch three erotic film clips during which time they measured genital arousal.  Before two of the sessions, the women exercised.  The results? Exercising prior increased genital arousal and sexual satisfaction. [11]

7. May Help Menopausal Mood Swings

Hormonal changes and mood swings are often most severe during menopause.  The University of Granada’s Faculty of Health Sciences recommends that menopausal women may benefit from physical exercise, which lessens the physical and psychological changes associated with menopause. [12]

8. May Improve Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an inflammation and degeneration of the central nervous system.  This will often affect physical activities (like walking) and cognitive functions like attention and memory. According to the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, because exercise combats inflammation and neurodegeneration, it may be therapy worth investigating for sufferers of multiple sclerosis. [13]

9. Promotes Positive Recovery

Traumatic brain injuries often include a long and difficult recovery process. Unfortunately, depression can creep in.  As part of an approach to dealing with the difficulties, Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center advises that exercise may be an appropriate method to boost the quality of life for persons who have sustained traumatic brain injuries. [14]

- Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

References:

  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Fundamental To Preventing Disease. 2002 June 20.
  2. Yancey JR, Thomas SM. Chronic fatigue syndrome: diagnosis and treatment. Am Fam Physician. 2012 Oct 15;86(8):741-6. Review.
  3. Rethorst CD, Sunderajan P, Greer TL, Grannemann BD, Nakonezny PA, Carmody TJ, Trivedi MH. Does exercise improve self-reported sleep quality in non-remitted major depressive disorder? Psychol Med. 2013 Apr;43(4):699-709. doi: 10.1017/S0033291712001675.
  4. Nascimento SL, Surita FG, Cecatti JG. Physical exercise during pregnancy: a systematic review. Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol. 2012 Dec;24(6):387-94. doi: 10.1097/GCO.0b013e328359f131.
  5. Deslandes A. The biological clock keeps ticking, but exercise may turn it back. Arq Neuropsiquiatr. 2013 Feb;71(2):113-8.
  6. Wang C. Role of Tai Chi in the treatment of rheumatologic diseases. Curr Rheumatol Rep. 2012 Dec;14(6):598-603. doi: 10.1007/s11926-012-0294-y. Review.
  7. Hamer M, Endrighi R, Poole L. Physical activity, stress reduction, and mood: insight into immunological mechanisms. Methods Mol Biol. 2012;934:89-102. doi: 10.1007/978-1-62703-071-7_5.
  8. Dishman RK, Sui X, Church TS, Hand GA, Trivedi MH, Blair SN. Decline in cardiorespiratory fitness and odds of incident depression. Am J Prev Med. 2012 Oct;43(4):361-8.
  9. Dopp RR, Mooney AJ, Armitage R, King C. Exercise for adolescents with depressive disorders: a feasibility study. Depress Res Treat. 2012;2012:257472. doi: 10.1155/2012/257472. Epub 2012 Jul 24.
  10. Scheewe TW, Backx FJ, Takken T, Jörg F, van Strater AC, Kroes AG, Kahn RS, Cahn W. Exercise therapy improves mental and physical health in schizophrenia: a randomised controlled trial. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2013 Jun;127(6):464-73. doi: 10.1111/acps.12029. Epub 2012 Oct 26.
  11. Lorenz TA, Meston CM. Acute exercise improves physical sexual arousal in women taking antidepressants. Ann Behav Med. 2012 Jun;43(3):352-61. doi: 10.1007/s12160-011-9338-1.
  12. Villaverde Gutiérrez C, Torres Luque G, Ábalos Medina GM, Argente del Castillo MJ, Guisado IM, Guisado Barrilao R, Ramírez Rodrigo J. Influence of exercise on mood in postmenopausal women. J Clin Nurs. 2012 Apr;21(7-8):923-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2011.03972.x.
  13. Motl RW, Pilutti LA. The benefits of exercise training in multiple sclerosis. Nat Rev Neurol. 2012 Sep;8(9):487-97. doi: 10.1038/nrneurol.2012.136. Epub 2012 Jul 24. Review.
  14. Wise EK, Hoffman JM, Powell JM, Bombardier CH, Bell KR. Benefits of exercise maintenance after traumatic brain injury. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2012 Aug;93(8):1319-23. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2012.05.009.

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  • Drkevin Ho

    It is often said that meditation can heal many problems but the condition is that it should be done in the right manner. This is exactly the same case with acupuncture as well

  • vlinderbutterflypapillon

    I have multiple sclerose and since I have the right medication (tysabri) I am started running…just minute by minute ofcourse…but: IT HELPS ME A LOT!

  • Edward Group

    Excellent!

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