Exercise During Convalescence Can Improve Recovery

Matengo Chwanya's picture

Thinking back to those days when people had to chew cinchona barks and an assortment of roots and leaves whenever they fell ill, I can say with certainty that drugs have largely improved the fortunes of people.

But I fear that drugs have become overused, and nowadays we have a pill for all and sundry, for those with life threatening conditions, and those seeking to tweak their otherwise healthy selves. I know I have done it, popping supplements back when I wanted to get Ronnie Coleman’s physique; the only problem was that I wasn’t doing the requisite amount of exercise to get there.

We are rapidly progressing to a point where were are getting into a drug  overload, as prescriptions increase over the board, while people seem to ignore the most basic engagements through which they can maintain their health.

According to research carried out by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), about 80% of American adults do not do engage in the minimum recommended weekly exercise, and that is 2.5 hours of moderate activity or 1¼ hours of intense activity.

It is a shame really, considering that there are many known benefits to exercising even when you are the paragon of health.

But even more importantly, exercising has been shown to be equally or even more effective than some medication during convalescence.

A metaepidemiological study conducted by researchers drawn from the London School of Economics, Harvard Medical School and Stanford University School of Medicine came to this conclusion following an extensive study of past research work. 

The Methodology

Given the wide breadth of literature on exercises and medication, a few crucial parameters had to bet set up so as to come up with a more concise set of data.

The first step the researchers took was to peruse through Medline, an online repository for health related research, containing more than 19 million references and maintained by America’s National Library of Medicine.

This was then followed by analyses that compared the significance of specific regimes to mortality outcomes, identifying the drugs using standards such as the Cochrane Database of Systematic Review and the like.

Finally, the team searched Medline for tests that included vis a vis comparisons of the mortality outcomes for medical intervention and drugs.

All steps involved the use of keywords that could provide the most recent reviews. The authenticity of the data so obtained was then confirmed by a member of the team.

The refined data was then taken through various stage of statistical analysis, evaluating parameters such as direct and indirect comparisons between the two alternatives.

All in all, they gleamed their findings from the results of 339,274 people, drawn from 305 trials. Their diseases of interest were stroke, heart failure, coronary heart disease and diabetes.

Their Findings

A comprehensive analysis of the data showed that in the case of coronary heart disease, exercise was really no better than all conventional medication, as was the case with diabetes. In the case of heart failure, exercise was marginally better than ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers, but diuretics were the best in reducing mortality outcomes.

But the benefit of exercise really came out in stroke victims, were those who were on different exercise regimes had higher survivability probability than patients on medications such as anticoagulants and anti-platelets.

Limitations of the Study

It is only prudent to let everyone know how best to interpret a study, because there are certain constraining factors that can alter everything.

The researchers were keen to note that there could have been limitations imposed by the fact there were hardly any trials that made direct comparisons between the interventions offered by drugs and exercise, and that in some cases, the sample population was relatively small, thus introducing a certain level of uncertainty in the results.

What These Mean To You

The fact that exercise has been shown to have a greater chance of improving your survival after an illness doesn’t mean you should jump onto the nearest treadmill and work a sweat. More importantly, it doesn’t mean you throw away your medication in favor of exercise.

What you will clearly need is to engage in exercise while taking your medication, and the exercise regime should be recommended by your physician. I am certain most will recommend some form of exercise, cause my grandfather’s brother (there’s no simple English term for that relation!) is diabetic, and every now and then we walk him a bit, and he’s lived with developed diabetes since his 20s. He is an octogenarian, and I believe that it's been these walking exercises and a more traditional diet, that have seen him through all these years of insulin shots.






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