Healthy Living

Exercise As Medicine: 30 Minutes Of Physical Activity Is The Best Single Thing You Can Do For Your Health

Healthy living
Getting off your chair, out of your living room, and up the stairs, onto the track, onto the biking path — this will be your best medicine for almost all chronic diseases. Creative Commons

Hippocrates once said that walking is the best medicine, and research has consistently shown that thousands of years later, he was probably spot on.

What’s the single health “intervention” that can increase your quality of life significantly? Exercise. It’s been shown to reduce symptoms in knee arthritis patients by 47 percent, dementia and Alzheimer’s by 50 percent, diabetes by 58 percent, anxiety by 48 percent, and depression by 30 percent. It’s the number one treatment for fatigue, too.

The best thing you can do for your health is to spend a half hour being active every day. Dr. Mike Evans is the founder of the Health Design Lab at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute as well as a professor at the University of Toronto, and in his short video he illustrates how exercise can be the best preventive medication out there, treating essentially every conceivable chronic sickness and reducing the rates of illness or death.

In preventive medicine, the focus lies more in what you can do to stop diseases before they occur, rather than treating them later once they’ve already arrived. A good example is diabetes: A large fraction of the American population — about 9.3 percent —suffers from diabetes. The health care system emphasizes the use of drugs and medication to treat diabetes rather than really getting to the root of the problem: fitness and activity, losing weight, and an overall preventive approach.

Exercise has been shown to relieve many of the negative effects of obesity. An obese person who isn’t active is far more likely to suffer from obesity-related disorders like heart disease or die from a cardiovascular event, while an obese person who is active is able to protect themselves more from these negative effects.

Evans goes on to ask the questions: How much, how often, and how intensely should you work out in order to reap its benefits? It’s different for every person, but just about 30 minutes per day could do the trick. Every extra 10 minutes added to your walk to work gives you a 12 percent decrease in your high blood pressure rates. Battling a sedentary lifestyle will vastly improve your quality of life, and become your best medicine for most ailments.

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