The Wonder Drug That's Free

Medicine is expensive. From family physician visits to consultations with specialists to prescription drugs, long life is a major investment. But what if there was a free wonder drug that warded off everything from dementia and high blood pressure to diabetes and osteoporosis? Well, doctors and scientists say there is. It’s exercise. And they’re finding new prescriptions for it every day.

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“No pill protects us against ill health like exercise does,” writes Andy Coghlan for New Scientist. “A plethora of recent studies shows that exercise protects us from heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, obesity, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and depression. It even boosts memory. And it has the potential to prevent more premature deaths than any other single treatment, with none of the side effects of actual medication.”

Coghlan goes on to quote Erik Richter, a diabetes researcher at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, who calls exercise a wonder drug. “There’s probably not a single organ in the body that’s unaffected by it,” Richter said.

Deakin University, a public university in Victoria, Australia, reported this week that a new study published in Osteoporosis International has found that ‘explosive power’ such as is used in jumping might actually help post-menopausal women with osteoporosis to keep their balance and help to prevent falls.

In the study, researchers tested 63 women aged 57 to 74 years—who had low bone mass in their hips and spines—on their ability to jump and to stand on one leg as well as their leg-press strength, calf-muscle size and fat content.

They found that the womens’ “neuromuscular power”—or the measure of how quick, fast, hard and intensely a person can move—was more important than muscle strength or size in terms of balance.

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