Exercise: the ‘wonder drug’ 

13/07/2012 00:00 

Exercise truly is the best medicine and the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games must inspire a generation to do more of it.

Amateur hurdler Matthew Downer training with insitute physio Bruce Paton

Amateur hurdler Matthew Downer training with insitute physio Bruce Paton

That was one of the key messages from a conference which launched the UCLH/UCL Institute of Sport Exercise and Health this week.

Taking stairs instead of using a lift and walking up an escalator are examples of the tiny steps which could have a huge impact on a person’s health.

The institute is one of three facilities which make up the Department of Health-funded National Centre for Sport & Exercise which was launched on the same day. The centre’s aim is to not only to improve the performance and recovery of elite athletes but help NHS patients whose conditions could benefit from an exercise regime.

At the UCLH/UCL Institute, NHS patients and elite sportsmen and women will be treated by the same experts under the same roof.

Some of the most influential names in sport and exercise medicine came together for the launch and provided evidence of the profound impact exercise can have on people’s health.

Exercise was described as a ‘wonder drug’ or ‘magic pill’ which, if used in the right measures can:

  • Reduce the risk of heart disease by 40 per cent
  • Lower the risk of stroke by 27 per cent
  • Reduce the incidence of diabetes by almost half
  • Reduce the risk of recurrent breast cancer by almost half
  • Lower the risk of colon cancer by over 60 per cent
  • Decrease depression as effectively as Prozac

Dr Mike Loosemore, a UCLH consultant sport and exercise physician and doctor to the Team GB boxing team, said seven hours of non-vigorous physical activity every week could decrease mortality by 24 per cent.

“Every disease you come across you can treat with exercise. We need a champion for exercise medicine in the UK and I believe the National Centre for Sport & Exercise will do that.

“Physical inactivity is the major public health problem of our time and we all have the answer: we have to be more active.”

Former sports minister Richard Caborn, who oversaw London’s successful bid for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, said most government departments had a ‘vested interest’ in promoting exercise because of the hugely positive impact it would have on the nation’s economy.

He added: “I saw through my tenure as sports minister that society was changing and continues to change. We have for the last two decades been systematically taking exercise out of people’s lives. If we are going to reverse that trend it’s about affecting people’s daily lives. That’s the challenge for this centre.”

Juliet Bouverie, Director of Services for Macmillan Cancer Support, said there were real benefits to being active pre, post and during cancer treatment.

She said: “Many doctors think ‘rest is best’ but the evidence does prove that moderate levels of physical activity – even during active treatment – are effective in improving recovery and reducing disease recurrence in some cancers.

“For breast and prostate cancer, you can reduce the risk of dying from the disease by 30 to 40 per cent if you do recommended levels of physical activity.”


 Latest news

 Contact details

Communications unit
2nd floor central
250 Euston Road
London NW1 2PG

Media enquiries

Switchboard: 020 3456 7890
Media enquiries: 020 3447 7542 / 020 3447 9506
Email: uclh.media@nhs.net

Out of hours
The normal working hours for the Communications Unit are Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm. The only media enquiries that will be answered outside of these working hours are urgent enquiries and those relating to major incidents. To access the out-of-hours service call switchboard on 0845 155 5000.

Share this story