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Exercise May Be “Magic Bullet” to Combat Obesity and Other Illnesses

A recent editorial published in the journal Cardiology, by researchers from Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University, made a strong case for the importance of regular exercise. They suggest that it could be the “magic bullet” for combatting obesity and cardiovascular disease.

The authors first addressed the low rate of physical activity amongst Americans and Europeans. According to their analysis, only 20% of Americans meet the recommended levels of regular physical activity and 64% do not engage in any physical activity at all. Europe is doing slightly better, with 33% of people regularly exercising and 42% never exercising.

That lack of exercise has serious results. According to the authors, not participating in regular exercise directly contributes to 22% of incidences of coronary heart disease, 22% of colon cancer, 18% of osteoporotic fractures, 12% of diabetes and hypertension, and 5% of breast cancer. It also accounts for up to 2.4% of American healthcare costs, which equals approximately $24 billion yearly.

They went on to point out that regular exercise has benefits beyond weight loss, including improved blood pressure, cholesterol, triglyceride, diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, possible protection against certain cancers, and improvements in mood, energy, sleep, and sex life. Despite these benefits, the majority of people still do not engage in regular exercise. They theorized that this may be due to a lack of or inaccurate information about exercise and its benefits, as well as people feeling they don’t have the time or energy to exercise.

The authors also pointed to a diet industry that has sold the idea that calorie restriction is the best way to lose weight. However, most people have trouble losing weight through calorie restriction alone, suggesting that regular exercise is as important, if not more.

They suggest taking even a “brisk” 20 minute walk daily, which is a type of physical activity that people of almost any age can participate in. They also suggest resistance training such as weight lifting, which increases a body’s amount of lean muscle mass, increasing the number of calories they burn even when resting.

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