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I am a New Zealand registered nurse and nutritionist (Grad Cert Sci: nutrition, Massey Univ). I am a Certified Zone Instructor, and have worked teaching Zone diet principles to hundreds of clients over the last 10 years. More recently after finding that eating Paleo food choices was the "icing on the cake" health wise, I have become a Paleo enthusiast and teacher. Follow me on twitter @juliannejtaylor

Exercise – a powerful medicine that should be prescribed to all patients

Exercise is the medicine that your Doctors should order!

“Dunedin sports and exercise medicine specialist Dr Hamish Osborne is challenging New Zealand GPs to start viewing exercise as a powerful medicine that should be prescribed to all patients.

Osborne, scheduled to speak today at the Royal New Zealand College of GPs conference in Christchurch, said literature overwhelmingly supported the use of exercise as medicine. Research showed that women diagnosed with breast cancer have their survival rate doubled if they exercise for an hour a day.

Similarly, research showed that with bowel cancer, for those who need chemotherapy, exercise was as powerful as chemo.

Osborne said the treatment effect of exercise was so powerful the American College of Sports Medicine was pushing the line that it might become unethical not to prescribe exercise to everyone.

“The government here does not spend any money on promoting it [exercise] but they pour gazillions of dollars into drugs to try and treat the illness that could be partially prevented by exercising. The exercise medicine prevention numbers are, in general, all enormous. You’re talking about 50% reduction of just about whatever you name.”

Osborne, based at the Dunedin School of Medicine, said a typical GP consultation did not provide enough time for exercise medicine issues and many GPs had never been taught about its effectiveness. Previous governments had toyed with the idea of “green prescriptions” but not enough money had been put into it to make it work.

“There needs to be a philosophical change at a whole bunch of levels,” said Osborne.

Osborne said that as a guideline for the adult population, everyone should walk for 30 minutes daily, five days a week, plus another hour of slightly higher intensity exercise. They should also be lifting something heavy a couple of times a week.”

Source: Stuff.co.nz

Another study shows that heavy physical activity may significantly reduce heart disease deaths, especially after age 45.

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10 Responses to “Exercise – a powerful medicine that should be prescribed to all patients”

  1. I am living proof that exercise during chemo and after is essential to a better outcome. I could not have done it without forcing myself to exercise! Great advice!

    September 5, 2010 at 12:23 am Reply
  2. Nice pick up Julianne. I saw this and put it in the queue for posting… no need now!!

    This is hte nub of the problem if you ask me:

    “…a typical GP consultation did not provide enough time for exercise medicine issues and many GPs had never been taught about its effectiveness.”

    In 15 years, I have had only one GP come to me for exercise advice, but I have seen many more do their own gym sessions. And. They. Are. Rubbish. They like to think they know because, well, they are doctors, and they received one lecture on the importance of exercise. And really, how hard could it be anyway??

    They are well out of their depth with it. And until such time as the doctors themselves believe in and value nutrition and exercise as the powerful forms of medicine they are, and their patients value being given exercise over a pill (yeah right – pigs might fly), I can’t see it happening. The medical profession isn’t there yet. The whole lot would need a bigger paradigm shift than they are currently willing to make.

    September 5, 2010 at 2:45 am Reply
  3. Dan #

    It seems New Zealand will never push the preventative medicine thing just like everyone else. My friend is a medical doctor in Auckland and gets so frustrated with this.

    September 14, 2010 at 1:31 pm Reply
    • When Doctors rarely practice preventative medicine in their own lives, it must be a big ask to actually recommend it to others.

      September 20, 2010 at 10:02 pm Reply
  4. ashley #

    In Dr. K’s book, he recommend light exercise and yoga for people with Hashimoto’s however, the Paleo lifestyle recommends circuit training and HIIT.
    What do you think is best, Julianne?

    April 29, 2011 at 3:15 pm Reply
    • The problem with high intensity exercise for some people is that it can increase adrenal stress if overdone. I enjoy it – but only do 2 – 3 sessions a week and don’t overdo the sessions.

      May 1, 2011 at 9:47 pm Reply
  5. ashley #

    What about weights and CT? What exercises do you do/reccomend?

    May 2, 2011 at 12:18 am Reply
  6. I’m not an exercise expert, however in general there are three types of exercise that I think should be done by all:
    1. Lifting heavy weights – so you get as strong as possible. Using complex movements is also good, as in real life we don’t do simple one plane muscle movement. Muscles get weak over the years especially after 40. Keeping up strength is critical to health as we age. It also keeps bones strong.
    2. High intensity exercise like sprints, or crossfit type workouts that use weights (not too heavy) and high intensity short bursts. Don’t do more than about 20 – 40 minutes at a time, or stress hormones increase.
    3. Generally move as much as possible e.g. walking, cycling, housework, gardening, etc. Sitting and doing nothing with our bodies appears to be unhealthy.

    May 2, 2011 at 12:32 am Reply
  7. Hi Julianne,

    I was looking for evidence that exercise increased survival rates for breast cancer sufferers and read on your (excellent) article that “Research showed that women diagnosed with breast cancer have their survival rate doubled if they exercise for an hour a day.” Do you know where you sourced that from?

    The best study I can find is this one, but it doesn’t go as far as your statement.


    December 6, 2013 at 2:53 am Reply

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