Health-a-bet: E is for… ExerCYse!

No, this is not a typo. ExerCYse is Medicine is a health initiative started at Iowa State University devoted to promoting exercise prescription for a healthier life. Everyone knows exercise is good for you, but most don’t know just how good for you it is.

To start, let’s look at exercise as preventative medicine. Exercise keeps the body physically stronger, flexible, and more balanced therefore reducing the risk of injury or falls. Research has also found regular exercise helps ward off dementia and memory loss. Exercising patients who are diagnosed with Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease suffer fewer falls and are less likely to be put in a nursing home than those who do not exercise.

Regular exercise is also linked to a decreased risk in heart disease, gastrointestinal disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and certain cancers. Much of this is due to exercise being a very effective method of weight management, but also due to improvements in blood pressure, blood flow to vital organs, and done density.

Ok, so exercise is preventative medicine, and it can help with Alzheimer’s Disease, but how is it actually as good as medication?

While you should definitely talk to your doctor about any major changes in medications or lifestyle, exercise can actually be treatment for conditions. The old way of thinking was that diabetics and asthmatics shouldn’t exercise, but research is telling us that respiratory function improves in asthmatics who are physically active, and can actually reverse the effects of type II diabetes.

It’s not only physical conditions that are improved by exercise. Exercise can be used as a prescription for conditions like depression or insomnia as well, so next time you see your doctor, ask him or her about exercise before reaching for the prescription pad.

See www.exercyse.org to learn more about ExerCYse is Medicine and the exercise prescription public health initiative.

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