To most people, medicine is the physical drug taken either orally or through other appropriate routes, under specific dosages, formulation, and prescription. However, physical activity and exercise never occur to many people as an aspect of medicine same as all the others. In this regard, it is timely to consider exercise as medicine, whose prescription, dosage, and indications assume a medical approach. Exercise is thus an aspect of medicine beneficial to one’s body in various ways including enhancing a stronger physique, achieving a healthy state of the mind, and possibilities of extending one’s life.
Exercise confers several benefits to the body starting with strengthening the muscles and bones for better activity, reducing toxic substance buildup in the body, and relieving stress, therefore enhancing an individual’s general life outcomes. In this regard, the place of exercise in medicinal practice cannot be replaced by any drug therapy regimen, but by exercise alone. Thus, exercise is free to access, which is sometimes a prescribed medicine. It is considered that many people in the millennial era view pumping iron as a desirable physique achieving method. However, the recreational concerns of working out cannot outdo the medical intentions because keeping fit is medicine.
Over the past few decades, morbidities and mortalities reported over inadequate working out have increased proportionately (Leddy et al. 262). However, working out is known to be beneficial in the management of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity, mental health, and musculoskeletal conditions. Whereas the practice of medicine is known vastly for the dispensing roles of physicians, other aspects of medicine, such as exercise and nutrition, remain undervalued, though vital in the overall outcomes of disease management.
In support of the benefits of exercise and physical activity, the U.S. National Library of Medicine on importance of Exercise notes that regular exercise and physical activity is a desirable weight control initiative and, thus, is useful in limiting the onset or the progression of obesity. Study findings indicate that exercise bears the potential to lower the potentials of heart related ailments by increasing the flow rates of blood through the body thus enhancing oxygen supply (Leddy et al. 262). With the increasing pressure of living in the world today, many people are stressed and unable to experience real happiness because of several reasons. Exercise and physical activity are golden bulletin reducing and rejuvenating an elated mood in an individual. The President’s Council of Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition on the Importance of Physical Activity notes that while undertaking an exercise or a physical activity, the body releases certain chemicals which confer a relaxing effect on the brain, thus decreasing the risk of one developing dire mental health challenges such as depression.
Studies have validated that people who maintain a regular physical activity routine have the chance of living longer and experiencing a healthier life, whereas people who live in constant physical inactivity experience an early onset of chronic disease conditions, therefore risking early mortalities (Smith 130). The effects of physical inactivity have been reflected to affect all population age groups almost equally, though people with pre-existing disease conditions stand the chance of being affected more than people with no disease conditions. The immense association of physical inactivity with death indicative factors makes physical activity a mandated medical indication. According to Leddy et al., prescribing physical activity to patients as a medical intervention has been approved in many nations across the globe. This has come to help reduce the effects of physical inactivity, by embracing physical activity, to improve sleep, endurance, and sometimes in enhancing sexual pleasure (Barton 262). Therefore, it is beneficial for care providers to write prescriptions where necessary.
Different views have been presented forth as to the effectiveness of physical activity and exercise in disease management. Whereas, the results of medication or drug therapy may sometimes confer instant results, physical activity may take days, weeks, and months to present its benefits, for instance in patients with overweight and obesity. Physical activity and inconsistent exercise activities may present temporary results, as in the case of overweight and obesity where cessation of the activities makes the body relapse into overweight and obesity. Whereas the health outcomes of being physically active are immense, one may argue that these results can be achieved through alternative avenues. For instance, in the case of mental wellbeing, medication therapy is the king as it is and therefore one may wonder if exercise is a necessity in such cases. Some may also argue that exercise is not inherently good for everyone and should not, therefore, be generalized as a good thing for all people.
In support of the conflicting views, other studies view exercise and physical activity as a luxury, an activity for leisure, and whose considerations as medicine are unwarranted (Alvarez-Pitti et al. 173). Similarly, many have mistaken exercise with the practices associated with positive outcomes such as beauty enhancement, for models and those desiring a lean body physique (Leddy et al. 262). In most cases, these opposing views limit the functions of exercise to their aesthetic properties more than their medical aspects.
In as much as the opposing views present valid cases, exercise remains to be a form of medicine, with great effectivity as compared to, if not more than the pharmaceutical medication interventions. In medicinal practice, having many intervention plans for a disease condition is always a good idea and works in offering a buffer against the side effects of one alternative for the next available alternative. Therefore, in as much as exercise and physical activity alone cannot be a hallmark one-size-fits-all, the combination of physical activity with medication where there is need can prove beneficial.
Whereas diseases occur in people for different reasons, some are out rightly as a result of certain personal behaviors. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, of the factors that contribute to a person’s health, such as genetics at 20%, the environment at 20%, access to healthcare at 10%, a person’s behavioral aspects account for the most at 50%. Therefore, physical activity and exercise are two behavioral factors that could confer immense health outcomes if put into consideration, because behavioral factors contribute the most to health status determinants.
Exercise is sure good for everyone, but considerations are tagged along with various exercise prescriptions depending on individual patient’s needs. In consideration of the medical aspects of exercise, the healthcare system began prescribing exercise, just like drugs are prescribed. Studies have revealed that prescribing exercise while consideration various indications such as the patient’s endurance, stamina, length of time for exercise, and dose of the exercise goes a long way in determining patients’ outcome, by fostering adherence rates (Barton et al. 360). Therefore, the view that exercise is medicine is timely owing to the immense benefits of exercise in enhancing health outcomes.
In the world today, the incidences of long-term diseases have hit records high as a result of limited or no physical activity and exercise. The problems affiliated with inadequate or limited engagement in physical activity and exercise go beyond personal problems, to becoming communal, Federal, and State problems rapidly. The costs of care over diseases related to physical inactivity are high per patient, thus indicative of better ways of addressing the issues. However, most of this is major because of the prevailing hard socio-economic time which denies people the opportunity for exercise, the increased intake of high-energy foods, and increased immobility (Alvarez-Pitti et al. 173). Physically inactive individuals are at risk of developing hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and stroke, high or low blood sugar levels, and in some cases, some types of cancers (U.S. National Library of Medicine). All these disease conditions can be prevented with properly coordinated exercise and physical activity moments. For many cases of disease development, inactivity has been cited as the chief problem.
Some diseases are reversible and efforts at preventing the prevalence and incidence of such diseases must address the underlying behavioral challenges. There is no better way to manage diseases and illness in healthcare, other than the prompt initiation of preventive measures to disease occurrences. Exercise and physical activity are better preventive measures to the chronic development of diabetes and hypertension and also in the reduction of risks of heart attacks. As such, it is better to understand physical activity and exercise from the medical angle than the leisure angle, to sully grasp the benefits thereof. With the rising mortalities and prevalent morbidities of diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and cancers, healthcare organizations and individuals must invest more in preventive measures. On top of the list in preventive measures is exercise and physical activity prescriptions by healthcare professionals, which considers exercise as medicine.
Whereas alternate views would consider the desirable health outcomes of engaging in physically active and exercise practices as over-rated, physical activity and exercise impact health positively with more benefits as opposed to the use of medication alone.
Opposition: Some contrary views consider physical activity rather negatively.
- First, it is too strenuous
- Second, there is no time to keep running around
- Exercise and physical activity are leisure activities
- Exercise is not fit for everyone
Support: Physical activity and exercise is beneficial for everyone’s physical health
- Helps in strengthening the muscles
- Promotes the development of strong bones, muscles and increases joint development
- Reduces risks of heart related diseases
- Increases endurance in strenuous physical activities
Support: Physical activity enhances better mental outcomes:
- Helps in improving sleep for depressed persons
- Helps to decrease the chances of depression
- Increases an individual’s mood and enthusiasm
- Generally acts in reducing stress
Reduces risks of illness and general wellness:
- Helps in limiting the onset of some strains of cancers
- Reduces chances of importance or low sexual libido
- Increases chances of people living longer
- Enhances the brains capacity to think and expand knowledge acquisition
Exercise and physical activity as other medicine cases can be prescribed, dosage, and timed for effectiveness in many disease conditions, therefore warranting exercise as medicine.
Until recently, medical practice did not consider exercise as an important factor and a standard treatment to the healing and wellbeing of individuals. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine on the Benefits of Exercise, in the United States, cardiovascular diseases contribute immensely to the high mortality rates reported for all-cause of death. In the like manner, lifestyle behaviors such as sedentary living, coupled with smoking and alcohol consumption by most of the American population have been attributed to increased morbidities and mortalities. These changes in lifestyle practices have since led to incidences and increased the disease progression rates of many disease conditions. However, engaging in rigorous exercise and conducting physically active jobs have been proven to be beneficial in determining health outcomes.
In many instances, exercise and physical activity in the past was left as a means of managing conditions that requires physiotherapy interventions. However, exercise has remained as one of the best and impactful strategies in the treatment and prevention of numerous diseases, with both short-term and long-term effects. In particular, physical inactivity is indicative of negative health outcomes ranging from the heart diseases such as stroke, mental diseases such as depression, and in some cases of cancers and diabetes (Alvarez-Pitti et al. 173). Differently, the desirable outcomes of being physically active are unmerited and encompass a wide area of influence to better health outcomes for patients of all ages. The human body is structured such that several organs functioning perfect unison to allow an individual to perform maximal tasks. Despite exercise being as important as is presented, some considerations must be put in place, including the safety protocols and measures that need to be considered before engaging in exercises.
In life, it is very unlikely to find an individual who falls ill and fails to seek medical attention, as a means of solving the illness state in their bodies. People like operating in their best states of mind and physical status, and always feel fulfilled while operating in this capacity. Illnesses invade the body and change the body’s homeostasis, thus causing pain and suffering to the body. Medications have been the timely agents that come in as a management measure to control the pain, and to some extent reduce the effects of the disease in an individual. As a preventive measure of disease occurrences, physical activity and exercise be responsible be beneficial in reducing the progression of some diseases, enhance better mental abilities as well as in correcting overweight and obesity (Smith 130). According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, studies have revealed that physical activity and exercise helps in maintaining normal blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. Some studies have also alluded to the fact that exercise can be useful in addressing smoking and other drug addictions, as it helps to minimize the effects of the withdrawal symptoms of the addictions (U.S. National Library of Medicine). Exercises are a useful way of maintaining an optimal health.
In many disease conditions, the part of the exercise in reversing the unwarranted health outcomes of illnesses is indispensable. For instance, excessive weight and increased body fat is one of the biggest health challenges of our time and affects populations variedly with utter disregard of gender or age. Obesity among the adult population in the United States is reported at a record high at thirty-three percent whereas the rates among children and adolescents follow closely at seven percent (Leddy et al. 262). Obesity is not just a health challenge but is also a serious challenge over the economic cost of management both to the individual as well as to the healthcare system. Therefore, proper management is needed to correct the effects of obesity and overweight, and conventional medications alone cannot manage to reverse these effects. Therefore, physical activity coupled with proper dietary practices has been reported to be the blueprints to obesity management. According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, regular physical activity enables the obese patient to reduce the total body fat to near normal levels and in the process, aids in controlling weight in an individual (“Physical Activity Guidelines”). In fact, this weight control effect is achieved by balancing the body’s total energy consumption versus utilization in exercise.
Regular exercise helps the body’s oxygen supply to remain at the maximal levels and increases the heart’s capacity to pump blood all over the body for circulation. Irregular exercise and physical activity sessions on the other hand bears little fruit, if not none at all, for one seeking the activity as means of reducing the effects of diseases. Therefore, the knowledge that consistency is paramount stamps the call for exercise and physical activity if better outcomes have to be realized. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, exercise and physical activity can easily be achieved through simple practices such as in performing daily household or work routines, such as walking back and forth, washing the car by oneself instead of taking to the car wash, and taking the stairs more often (“About the President’s Council”)
It is also observed that keeping track of the physical activity sessions through the use of fitness trackers or a personalized tracking chart would work well in aiding the positive outcomes of the physical activity sessions (Alvarez-Pitti et al. 173). In addition to the already existing ways of making exercise a regular thing, some studies have reported exercise on prescription, as one such way of making patients achieve the desired outcomes of exercise. Alvarez-Pitti et al. noted in a study of primary healthcare on patients receiving physical activity on prescription that patients’ adherence to the intervention was higher than normal indications of exercise without prescription (173). Hence, technology and prescriptions are useful in promoting exercise success.
Whereas the benefits of being physically active and engaging in regular exercise would be so appealing to many a people, how these activities are undertaken needs to be put into consideration. This is because, over the cause of time, scientific studies have reported that un-informed practices of physical activity may end up doing more harm than the desired good, through incidences of injuries (Leddy et al. 262). As notes Barton et al. these undesired outcomes have been shown to harbor the potential to affect the tenacity of the musculoskeletal system in strains and sprains and are, perhaps the likely risks involved in physical activity (360). The risks for exercise related injuries are more likely in persons who engage in physical activity to a lesser extent.
A study report has indicated that the risks of injuries related to engaging in physically active jobs are less in the general public, as only about one injury occurs in an exercise time of over a thousand hours (Leddy et al. 262). Among older adults, falls are a common cause of death or disability as a result of weaker bones and loss of muscle activity. However, clinical research studies have indicated that the risk of falls among the elderly can potentially be reduced through exercise. Smith notes that undertaking balance and muscle-strengthening activities in addition to performing light activities over time helps to strengthen the bones (130). With strong bones and muscles, the chances of falls related to osteoporosis among the elderly can be drastically reduced.
As a way of mitigating the unsafe practices, some guidelines for safe exercise and physical activity have been developed. As reports the study by the President’s Council of Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition on the Importance of Physical Activity, an individual undertaking the physical activity must choose the befitting type to commence based on the assessment of one’s fitness capacity. It is also recommended that physical activity be initiated gradually to give the body time to adjust to the muscle changes that come along with increased muscle activity (President’s Council of Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition on Importance of Physical Activity). Exercise indicated to patients as a means of managing their chronic disease conditions must be guided by the strict directions of qualified healthcare professionals (Barton et al. 360). This type of guidance is useful in that it relates to the disease condition of the patient as well as directs the choices and decisions made by the healthcare providers in prescribing physical activity.
For adequate safety, exercise moments should be conducted within the right environments free from obstacles that can lead to falls and with less obstructing traffic. The person undertaking the exercise should ensure they wear adequately befitting attires for the activity as a measure of safety. Nevertheless, the type of physical activity to engage in must be properly determined to the way the risks and benefits involved in the specific physical activity. People engaging in physical exercises as a means of decreasing the possibility of contacting illnesses or reducing disease burden should take into considerations the exercising precautions.
Whereas immense support exists championing for a physically active and engaging in regular exercise as medicine, critiques believe that fitness and health have no direct correlation with health outcomes and should, therefore, not be considered as medicine. Some studies report that being physically active and exercising are categorized under leisure activities, whereas others alluding that exercise is a vaccine with yet another one that exercising is more than medicine (Barton et al. 360). In support of the idea that exercise is recreation, a comparative study analyzing exercise as a recreational approach concluded that exercise is a recreation that acts as a link for people to achieve a certain degree of general wellness, but not as medicine (Smith 130). Likewise, another critique report indicated that physical activity and exercise should not be the hallmark for healthcare quality checks as medicine, but should be indicated to individuals by observing their capabilities to exercise (Barton et al. 360). Separate views are valid even though the opinion of working out as medicine holds.
On the other hand, views from an alternate source who view exercise as medicine supportive standpoints indicate that exercise, as being widely accepted as a prescription medication indication, is more medicine than a leisure activity. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, exercise is medicine in that its dosage follows an individualized prescription. The prescription exercise should include the mode of the exercise, the frequency, tenacity, and the length of time it ought to take. Besides, other supportive studies outline that physical activity is indicative for all persons of all age groups, with a few considerations. The considerations include certain disabilities and certain disease conditions which are likely made worse by engaging in exercise.
With the increasing prevalence rates of comorbid infections and lifestyle acquired infections globally, individuals, families, communities, healthcare leaders and governments must consider the need for being physically active and engaging in regular exercise. Overweight and obesity cases have blown out of proportion owing to inadequate exercise and poor dietary choices. High blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, and cardiovascular diseases have all been reported on the rise but can easily be reversed by proper and intentional exercise and physical activity.
Barton et al. notes that the problem of physical inactivity is a global public health problem that healthcare leaders must seek to address in the wider healthcare scope, by approving prescription exercise therapy, as a medicine (360). The benefits of physical activity and exercise far out ways the risks of engaging in the practices, therefore, patients and the general populations’ engagement in the practices should be highly recommended.
In conclusion, healthcare provision in the current age considers several disease prevention and treatment mechanisms, some of which may seem unconventional. To many people, exercise and physical activity belong to the unconventional side, whereas pharmacotherapy remains the preferred conventional treatment model. Regardless of the stand and opinion an individual chooses, exercise and physical activity remain to be a model of medicinal practice, which harbors immense benefits. Several disease conditions, including those touching on the muscles and skeletal system, the cardiovascular system, excessive weight gain, and increased fat deposition continue to claim many lives. The high incidences of infections from chronic to other comorbid diseases have been proven to be reversible with the regular engagement in physically active lives. Exercise coupled with healthy dietary practices has also been indicated as being vital in aiding the fight against preventable diseases.
The rates of disproportionate body fat and excessive weight gain have extremely been reduced with the practice of physical activity and exercise. From the studies highlighted, exercise prescription can significantly improve the wellbeing of geriatrics as it decreases the risk of falls that is linked with increased incidences of illness and deaths in the elderly. Depressive symptoms decline immensely with exercising as it aids in the release of chemical substances responsible for promoting stress relieve. In addition to the above, exercise has also been proven to enhance the reproductive outcomes of people who engage in regular exercise, by increasing sex libido. Prescription exercise, therefore, confers several benefits to an individual and works in increasing the individual’s lifespan by some more years as it limits the onset and the progression of certain diseases such as cancers. However great the benefits of exercise and physical activity may be, precautionary measures have been indicated in the practice of exercise and physical activity. First, it is recommended that people with limiting health complications undertake exercise under the surveillance of professional healthcare providers. Secondly, the type of exercise one engages in must be evaluated based on the individual’s abilities to sustain the specified activity.
Risks of uncoordinated physical activity and exercise, including strains and sprains, can be limiting in severe cases. Therefore, depending on the need, patients should be observed by qualified physicians. In so far as risks are involved in engaging in physically active moments, the health benefits of engaging in the activities are desirable to many people. To healthcare organizations, patients being physically active and engaging in regular exercise can help increase their life outcomes by reducing the time spent in hospitals and by decreasing the overall cost of care for diseases. With the regular practices exercising activities, diabetic and hypertensive patients reduce their potentials of death from these chronic disease conditions, thus enhancing their physical as well their mental wellbeing.
Alvarez, Julio. “Exercise as Medicine in Chronic Diseases during Childhood and Adolescence.” Anales de Pediatría (English Edition), vol. 92, no. 3, 2020, p. 173.
Barton, Matthias and Carmine Cardillo. “Exercise is Medicine: The Key to Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes Prevention.” Cardiovascular Research, vol. 117, no. 2, 2021, pp. 360-363.
Leddy, John. “Exercise is Medicine for Concussion.” Current Sports Medicine Reports, vol. 17, no. 8, 2018, p. 262.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “About the President’s Council of Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition.” Health.gov.
Smith, Andy. “Exercise is Recreation, not Medicine.” Journal of Sport and Health Science, vol. 5, no. 2, 2016, pp. 129-134.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans”, Health.gov, 2018, Web.
U.S. National Library of Medicine. “Benefits of Exercise”. MedlinePlus, 2019, Web.