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Q. Why would an exercise pill never get approval as a medicine?

A. Because it has too many side effects!

Ok, so I may not be a natural when it comes to making up jokes, but I have heard this reported in scientific literature. Medicines are designed to work on a particular health condition or problem, and to fix that without too many other side effects. The (good) problem with exercise is that it affects our entire body. Let’s take a look:

  • Head: good for thinking and memory skills, and your overall mood
  • Heart: prevents heart disease, reduces blood pressure, improves circulation
  • Lungs: improved breathing means more oxygen to every cell in the body
  • Limbs: arms and legs can get fitter and stronger, making the same activities less tiring
  • Bones: stronger bones means less risk of broken bones and osteoporosis
  • Balance: falls are a major health issue in older adults, and regular exercise can maintain your balance and prevent an age-related decline

In addition to this, regular exercise has been proven to make us live longer, and to be healthier as we get older. The risk of many types of cancer is also reduced in regular exercisers, and diabetes can be prevented or better controlled. The evidence is very strong to support the health benefits of regular exercise, which is why the government recommends getting 30 mins of moderately vigorous exercise every day.

The best type of exercise for you is the one that you will repeat every day!

So it may be walking, joining a group exercise class, playing golf or swimming – anything that gets your body moving and your heart pumping. If you are about to start an exercise program, don’t go too hard too fast, and see your doctor first if you have heart or other health conditions.

If you are ready to start, talk to your physiotherapist about how to go about it, and start receiving those health benefits today!

Dr Michelle McDonnell – Neurological Physiotherapist