Exercise vs. Drugs to Treat High Blood Pressure and Reduce Fat - The New York Times
Good morning all,
I hope that you have had an excellent Break, and are ready for the second half of our term!
We will begin our third unit of the semester with consideration of the cardiac and pulmonary systems. There is much in our upcoming chapters that will be familiar (we all have some inherent understanding of how these systems function) and important (cardiovascular pathology is a leading contributor to human morbidity and mortality). Health science research and news is dominated by several major fields, including cancer, infectious disease, and cardiopulmonary health, for they are at the forefront of what ails us.
One critical feature of our cardiac and pulmonary function is its malleability - we have real power to change how these systems perform, through our habits. Lack of exercise and poor lifestyle choices (in terms of diet, tobacco use, alcohol/drugs) plague too many of us, and a large component of the pharmaceutical industry is geared toward making medications that influence our cardiovascular and pulmonary health. But, we already hold the power to improve our condition, through exercise. Exertion is a form of physiological stress, and (within reason), it is a useful stress - our tissues respond to extra use with improved effectiveness. But, the temptation to simply 'pop a pill', or the lack of available time for exercise, makes it difficult for most of us to meet fitness goals (such as 150 min of moderate exercise per week).
Are these options equivalent? Here's a link to a recent study that makes this type of comparison: are medications or exercise better for treating/managing high blood pressure and body fat stores?
This study reports benefits from both medications and from exercise, and highlights some of the difficulties in making these comparisons (such as ensuring equivalent samples, and quantifying exercise uniformly). They also note that exercise is more easily accessible - no appointments or prescriptions are necessary (although anyone beginning a new exercise program is advised to seek medical consult, first).
Remember, though, that there are health benefits to exercise that extend beyond individual physiological systems, and that many of the benefits are somewhat intangible (improved mood, improved decision-making, social benefits). Studies like this are good reminders that we too easily forget the power of exercise, and the power we already hold to improve our own health.
Perhaps Nike put it best in their advertisements from a few years ago: just do it.
See you on Tuesday -