The benefits of regular exercise match those of all the major drugs-such as statins, beta blockers, ACE inhibitors-when it comes to keeping us alive, say researchers from Stanford and Harvard universities and the London School of Economics. The one exception were the diuretics, which were more beneficial than exercise after heart failure.
The researchers looked at the results from 305 medical trials which involved 339,274 people, across some of the most deadly chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke. They noted that earlier studies into exercise had come up with similar positive results on other chronic conditions, such as cancer, arthritis, and respiratory diseases.
The one thing they weren't able to establish was the best kind of exercise; the studies examined a wide range of exercise regimes, from walking, jogging, running and gym work-outs, say the researchers. But with just 14 per cent of Britons doing any kind of exercise at all, doing something could help improve the health of millions of people.
(Source: British Medical Journal, 2013; 347: f5577).