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Exercise – The Miracle Cure

Exercise – The Miracle Cure

A new Academy report launched today reveals the full extent exercise could have in preventing disease and treating many conditions. After two years analysing more than 200 separate pieces of research, the lead author, Scarlett McNally, a Consultant Orthopaedic surgeon, reveals the full impact that regular physical activity could have on the nation’s health.

While savings to the NHS are incalculable, it is clear that many billions of pounds are being spent on treating diseases such as type 2 diabetes, which can be prevented if we did just 30 minutes of physical activity five times a week. The report reveals how:

  • The risk of breast cancer can be reduced by as much as 25% with regular exercise, while the risk bowel cancer can be reduced by as much as 45%
  • The risk of ever developing dementia can be reduced by as much as 30%
  • The risk of ever having a stroke can be reduced by 30%
  • The chances of developing heart disease can be cut by over 40%

The effect of this small amount of regular exercise is better than many drugs.  Furthermore, exercise helps in the treatment of many common conditions.  It is estimated that half the population don’t do enough exercise and for the over 65s it’s less than a third. The report argues that physical activity need not mean joining an expensive gym or hiring a personal trainer. Instead it calls on doctors to encourage their patients to make a start with regular activities that are free and easy to do; a brisk walk – one that makes you slightly sweaty and slightly out of breath – costs nothing.  Dancing, cycling, even sex, it argues, can all bring dramatic health benefits. 

Scarlett McNally said, ‘This is about reminding doctors and patients that fitting small amounts of regular exercise into their schedule can make a huge difference to their health. It could be as simple as taking the stairs rather than a lift, kicking a ball about with your children or grandchildren. We’ve got to change what we think of as normal, because what we are seeing in our hospitals and surgeries up and down the country is that normal has become not enough exercise. Too many of my patients are paying the price for that with broken bones and years of ill-health that could have been avoided by being more active.’ 

Professor Dame Sue Bailey, Chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges which commissioned the report said, ‘This is about people and their doctors believing that the small effort involved is worth it because they are worth it.  There really is a miracle cure staring us in the face, one which too many patients and doctors have quite simply forgotten about. ‘

Exercise - The miracle cure - Press Release

Exercise - The miracle cure - Feb 2015