Written by Tim Rigby
Scientists at the Harvard Medical School recently conducted an in-depth investigation of what exactly it is that exercise does to a body, and they found an impressive list of physical effects that go far beyond weight loss and muscle building. These include increased insulin sensitivity (meaning a lower risk of type 2 diabetes), lower cholesterol levels, a better ratio of saturated to unsaturated fats, and biochemical markers of lowered cardiovascular risk. People who exercise regularly also have blood amino-acid profiles linked to good heart health.
“I often tell my patients that if we had the ability to put what exactly exercise does for us into a pill, it would be worth a million dollars," says Dr. Susan Cheng of Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. "The irony is, of course, that exercise itself is actually free."
While this is excellent news for someone already healthy and/or in their youth, the Doctor was asked whether exercise can effectively benefit someone who already has heart disease. "Everybody can benefit from exercise – at any age – even if a person has a chronic disease," Dr. Cheng says. "People with cardiovascular disease stand to gain substantially from a regular exercise routine."