9 Health Problems You Can Treat with Exercise

Exercise is medicine—a veritable cure-all for everything.

ByABC News
January 27, 2014, 4:28 PM
Here are some exercises that can alleviate health problems.
Here are some exercises that can alleviate health problems.
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Jan. 27, 2014— -- intro: It helps you live longer, lose weight, and gain a stronger heart. It can help you cope with stress and depression and boost your self-esteem. Exercise: It's the best medicine available, yet few doctors are going to write you a prescription for a daily 30-minute jog."Millions of people in our society suffer from a ridiculous number of health problems—some major, some minor that could become major—because they lack basic fitness," writes Jordan Metzl, MD, in his new book The Exercise Cure. And it's not just making us fat and lazy—it's also bankrupting the nation. "Based on current estimates, the United States spends more than $2.6 trillion—17 percent of the gross national product—on health care. That's $8,300 per person," he adds. "And somehow we rank 28th in the world for life expectancy."

The Magic Medicine Everyone Should Try

If you're sick of being sick, and of paying through the nose for expensive drugs that don't work, Dr. Metzl says that a simple exercise prescription could be just what you need. In fact, he reviewed all the research on exercise as a potent therapeutic agent and outlined quite a few conditions in his book that can be treated just as effectively, if not more so—with exercise as with drugs. Here are nine:

quicklist: 1 category: 9 Health Problems You Can Treat with Exercisetitle: Anxietyurl:text:There's the day-to-day anxiety we all suffer from, worries over work, money, and family issues. Then there is chronic clinical anxiety that can stem from other mental health issues like depression. Exercise can be helpful for both, since it releases feel-good endorphins and provides an immediate mood lift. And people who exercise are 25 percent less likely to develop anxiety than people who don't, research has shown.

Best exercises: For chronic anxiety sufferers, meditative exercises that focus on breathing, such as yoga, are best, as they work to calm a nervous system that's on overdrive. For general day-to-day anxiety, any regular exercise is fine, although the higher the intensity, the better.

quicklist: 2category: 9 Health Problems You Can Treat with Exercisetitle: ADHDurl:text:

While there is no cure for ADHD, exercise can improve focus, still fidgeting, and regulate emotions in both children and adults with the disorder. Exercise temporarily raises levels of dopamine, yielding results similar to the drugs Ritalin and Adderall. It also stimulates the part of the brain responsible for decision making and impulse control, and at its most basic, exercise alleviates tension that can arise from dealing with this often-frustrating condition.

Best exercises: Adults can benefit from any exercise, while kids are better off engaging in structured aerobic activity that fosters teamwork and boosts their self-esteem.

quicklist: 3category: 9 Health Problems You Can Treat with Exercisetitle: Memory Loss/Cognition Problemsurl:text:Exercise stimulates blood flow to the brain, something that can be hindered by heart problems like high cholesterol and hardened arteries; after all, a healthy brain depends on a healthy heart. In addition to counteracting poor cardiovascular health, exercise stimulates growth and adaptation in the brain, particularly in areas that control memory, finds a growing body of research. Those studies have shown that adults who exercise score higher on tests of memory, attention, decision making, multitasking, and planning.