Consumer Reports: Exercise as medicine

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Consumer Reports has advice on how to get the disease-fighting benefits of exercise. (WLS)

Before you reach for a pill to help fix what ails you, it might be better to reach for your gym gear. Research shows that for some conditions, exercise might work as well drugs and surgery, and with fewer side effects. So why don't doctors prescribe it more often? Consumer Reports has advice on how to get the disease-fighting benefits of exercise.

When Sandra Wingate discovered she had dangerously high blood sugar last year, type 2 diabetes, her doctor prescribed dietary changes, medication and regular exercise.

"If I keep with exercise and the diet changes, I will be off medication in a few months," Wingate said.

In fact, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found nearly one in 10 participants were able to give up diabetes medication altogether. That after two years on a program that included exercise and dietary changes.

Exercise has also been shown to be a very effective tool against other chronic conditions.

"For chronic lower back pain new guidelines from the American College of Physicians say you should try non-drug therapies, including exercise before you pop a pill," said Consumer Reports Health and Food Editor Trish Calvo.

For arthritis sufferers: weight training can build muscle strength thereby reducing pressure on joints and improving stability.

"But it's important to learn how to use weights correctly from a certified trainer or a physical therapist to avoid worsening joint pain," Calvo said.

Strength training can help people with diabetes too. The more muscle you have the less likely you are to store extra glucose as fat.

Consumer Reports says it's also important for those with diabetes to have some food before working out. And those on insulin should discuss the best time to exercise with their doctor. Both steps help avoid a potentially dangerous drop in blood sugar.

If your ailment is back pain, Consumer Reports has an in-depth report on all aspects of back pain in its June issue. For instance, is bed rest the right approach? Does medication help? And what are the top non-drug therapies that actually work?

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2017 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit

Related Topics:
healthconsumer reportsexercisediabetes

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