The wonder drug that’s free
BY ROBIN SEATON-JEFFERSON
Medicine is expensive. From family physician visits to consultations with specialists to prescription drugs, long life is a major investment. But what if there was a free wonder drug that warded off everything from dementia and high blood pressure to diabetes and osteoporosis? Well, doctors and scientists say there is. It’s exercise. And they’re finding new prescriptions for it every day.
“No pill protects us against ill health like exercise does,” writes Andy Coghlan for New Scientist. “A plethora of recent studies shows that exercise protects us from heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, obesity, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and depression. It even boosts memory. And it has the potential to prevent more premature deaths than any other single treatment, with none of the side effects of actual medication.”
Coghlan goes on to quote Erik Richter, a diabetes researcher at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, who calls exercise a wonder drug. “There’s probably not a single organ in the body that’s unaffected by it,” Richter said.
Deakin University, a public university in Victoria, Australia, reported that a new study published in Osteoporosis International has found that ‘explosive power’ such as is used in jumping might actually help post-menopausal women with osteoporosis to keep their balance and help to prevent falls.
In the study, researchers tested 63 women aged 57 to 74 years—who had low bone mass in their hips and spines—on their ability to jump and to stand on one leg as well as their leg-press strength, calf-muscle size and fat content.
They found that the womens’ “neuromuscular power”—or the measure of how quick, fast, hard and intensely a person can move—was more important than muscle strength or size in terms of balance.
“…post-menopausal women often struggle with their balance due to low bone mass, or osteoporosis.”
Associate Professor, Daniel Belavy from the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition at Deakin University, said until now there has been limited research in the area of explosive movement. It’s important, Deakin reported, as post-menopausal women often struggle with their balance due to low bone mass, or osteoporosis, which also makes them at a higher risk of bone fractures after a fall. He recommended that post-menopausal women add some form of rapid, explosive muscular or movement training into their fitness, falls prevention and balance training programs.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Robin Seaton Jefferson lives just outside of St. Louis with her husband of 24 years and two daughters. Find her on Twitter and Facebook @SeatonJefferson or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.