Charles A. Bertrand, M.D., FACP, DIM-CD (Ret.)
Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at New York Medical College
and at the Medical University of South Carolina


Most people realize that there is considerable benefit from regular physical activity. This has been stressed in he medical literature for many years. There are many examples of the value of such exercise, particularly in reducing the occurrence rate of heart attacks. This has been known for years.

The exercise performed need not be severe... even moderate physical activity is helpful and to an extent roughly comparable to heavy exercise. There are many examples of moderate exercise... walking is a good one. A person walking for a half hour three or four times a week receives considerable benefit from this exercise.

Recently there have been two articles published which stress the value of exercise in different situations, that is to say, in preventing strokes and hip fractures.

The stroke article originated from a long-term study of nurses, entitled "Physical Activity and Stroke in Women." It was a prospective cohort study of 72,488 female nurses over an eight-year span of time. The evaluation was done at the Harvard School of Public Health and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, June 14, 2000. (vol. 283,22,pp.2961-2967) This study showed a sizable reduction in the number of ischemic strokes (those caused by impaired blood supply), but no reduction in hemorrhagic strokes. Over this eight-year span of time there were 407 nurses who sustained strokes, and their exercise patterns were compared with those who did not have a stroke. The conclusion was that there was a considerable reduction in ischemic strokes in those exercising moderately as compared to the sedentary individuals, or "coach potatoes", as they are sometimes called. Hemorrhagic strokes were not affected by exercise. Since ischemic strokes are much more common (about 80% of all strokes), this is an important observation.

The hip fracture study was quoted in the Mayo Clinic Health Letter for July 2000. It relates to clinical research done in Finland, where 3,262 middle-aged men were evaluated over a 21-year period of time. It was determined that those men who were physically active while in he 40s and 50s had a much lower risk of hip fracture than their sedentary counterparts. This was true with even moderate activity. Regular physical exercise appears to have some value in preventing osteoporosis and, also, it should be noted that men who exercise regularly are more fit and are less likely to fall.

So, we have two additional reasons why individuals should exercise on a regular basis, even if it be moderate exercise. But, it should be noted that if you are an older person and have not exercised in some time, be sure to consult your doctor before initiating an exercise program.

The advice provided on this website is intended to be general in nature and should not be relied upon for specific treatment. If you need personal medical attention please contact your physician.

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