Exercise may be at least as effective as some drugs in reducing the
risk of death in stroke patients or people with heart disease, a study
published on Wednesday said.
Researchers from the London
School of Economics, Harvard Medical School and Stanford University
School of Medicine compared the findings of several studies into the
effectiveness of exercise versus drugs in people with coronary heart
disease, stroke patients, people with prediabetes and those with heart
They analysed the results of 305 randomised controlled trials involving 339,274 individuals.
data trawl "found no statistically detectable differences" between
exercise and drug treatment in reducing mortality for people with
coronary heart disease or prediabetes symptoms, according to a statement
released by the British Medical Journal (BMJ), which published the
In stroke patients, the team found that exercise was
more effective than drugs, while medicine worked better at treating
The team urged more trials to back up their findings, given the current dearth of information on the topic.
While exercise is a key factor for better health and long life, most research focused on drugs instead.
Medical research, said the team, "seems to increasingly favour drug interventions over strategies to modify lifestyle.
current body of medical literature largely constricts clinicians to
drug options", rather than prescribing exercise in cases where this may
be a more effective treatment.
Until more is known, exercise "should be considered as a viable alternative to, or alongside, drug therapy", the team wrote.
World Health Organisation (WHO) says physical inactivity is the
fourth-leading risk factor for global mortality, causing an estimated
3.2 million deaths globally each year.