A recently published research study compared how well various drugs and exercise succeed in reducing deaths among people who have heart disease, chronic heart failure, diabetes or stroke. The researchers chose these particular diseases to study because the effects of exercise on the risk of death have been well documented.
The results of the study were highlighted in the New York Times and included almost 340,000 participants in 305 past experiments. While most of the patients had received drugs for their ailments, 14,716 volunteers in about 57 studies were examined for the impact of exercise as a treatment.
Their findings consistently showed that drugs and exercise produced almost exactly the same results. Patients with heart disease, who exercised, but did not take the commonly prescribed heart meds, had the same risk of dying as those patients who took the meds. Same was true for patients with diabetes. Stroke patients had significantly less risk of dying from that condition if they exercised than if they used medication. Only patients with chronic heart failure had a “beyond random” chance for survival by taking meds instead of just exercising.
The researchers agree that more study is needed on how exercise affects patients with these common diseases, but they suggest that big pharma may not be as interested in this kind of research as it might decrease profits.