“Exercise can be used like a vaccine to prevent disease and a medication to treat disease. If there were a drug with the same benefits as exercise, it would instantly be standard of care.”
– Robert Sallis, MD, Chairman of Exercise is Medicine (developed by the American Medical Association)
Regular exercise is one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve your odds of living a long, healthy life. Scientists and health practitioners consider it the fountain of youth in regard to aging, and the wonderful thing is that it is essentially free. Over the years, countless scientific studies have linked regular exercise to numerous physical and mental benefits that extend long into old age. Given all we know about how good exercise is for our health, it truly is a wonder that so many Americans live a sedentary lifestyle.
Food Rx cares deeply about those of you living with IBD, and would like to make the following appeal: if you are currently neglecting your body’s need for regular activity – and you are not in the middle of a flare-up that would physically prevent you from strenuous movement – please consider talking with your doctor about beginning an exercise program. It is one of the most important conversations the two of you will have.
Individuals with IBD have a much higher risk of developing colon cancer than the general population, and physical exercise has been shown to greatly reduce the risk of developing colon cancer.[1,2,3] If you are living with IBD, regular exercise can help offset your increased risk.
Regular physical exercise has scientifically been linked to many health benefits, including reduced risk of many diseases. Skeptics have suggested that the reason these studies show strong correlation between fitness and health is because people who exercise are already healthy to begin with. The reality, though, is that study after study has shown the same positive correlation between exercise and health, even when the study participants are all healthy to begin with. There is simply no disputing the evidence: exercise gives you the best chance to staying younger longer, keeping your brain sharp, and your body healthy well into old age.
Writing in the Archives of Internal Medicine, two geriatricians, Dr. Marco Pahor of the University of Florida and Dr. Jeff Williamson of Winston-Salem, N.C., state definitively that “…today it is recognized that virtually all of the diseases and conditions that lead to physical disability in older adults have as part of their etiology a component of personal lifestyle choices (eg, physical inactivity) in addition to biological aging and environmental exposure.” In other words, if you choose to live a physically inactive lifestyle, you are willfully exposing yourself to a higher risk of chronic disease. A number of the key benefits of exercise are outlined below:
Next Section: Why We Recommend It
Please refer to our links in the Mind-Body section of Food Rx for more info on Exercise
 Lee, I.M. Physical activity and cancer prevention – data from epidemiologic studies. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2003; 35: (11), 1823–27.
 Wolin et al. Physical activity and colon cancer prevention: a meta-analysis. British Journal of Cancer, 2009.
 Landro, Lauren. The Hidden Benefits of Exercise: Even Moderate Physical Activity Can Boost the Immune System and Protect Against Chronic Diseases. The Wall Street Journal. Jan 1, 2010.
 Sun, Qi et al. Physical activity at midlife in relation to successful survival in women at age 70 years or older. Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(2):194-201.
 Williamson, J., et al. Evidence regarding the benefits of physical exercise. Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(2):124-125.