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The Health Benefits of Regular Exercise

Everyone knows that exercise is important, but sometimes it helps to be reminded of the fact. Here are the results from 42 studies which show the very real benefits you can gain from taking part in regular exercise.

Alzheimer's Disease

In a study involving 2,257 Men, ages 71 to 93. Those who walked at least 2 miles/day were less than half as likely to develop Alzheimer's than those who walked less than 1/4 mile/day.
JAMA, September,2004

For every one-unit increase of BMI (5 to 7 pounds), a woman's risk of developing Alzheimer's increases by 36%.
Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter February, 2004

"The single most significant trend in Alzheimer's research is the evidence that the risk factors for heart disease (a sedentary lifestyle and a high fat diet) track with those for Alzheimer's"
Newsweek, January 12, 2004


A two year study of 300 rheumatoid arthritis patients found that those involved in a 75 minute exercise program twice a week showed greater improvement in

when compared to those in traditional therapies.
Arthritis and Rheumatism, September, 2003

Research conducted at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, involving 6,000 people with arthritis over the age of 65 found that those who did not exercise regularly were 90% more likely to experience a decline in everyday functional capability than those who exercised regularly.
Arthritis and Rheumatism April, 2005

Benefits of Strength Training for Older Americans

"Strength training reduces the risk of falls, increases bone density..and reduces the symptoms for arthritis, heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, obesity and back pain…and can also have a profound effect on a person's mental and emotional health."
Center For Disease Control "Growing Strong" Strength Training for Older Americans, April 1, 2004


Being overweight increases the risk for at least 10 types of cancer,including cancers of the:

American Cancer Society August, 2004

Breast Cancer Prevention

Research involving 74,000 women, over 25 years, found that active women, even those with a family history of breast cancer lowered their risk of the disease by 18%.
JAMA, September 16, 2003

Breast Cancer Recurrence

A groundbreaking study involving more than 2,100 women found that even moderate amounts of exercise (30 minutes/day) can reduce a woman's risk of breast cancer recurrence by one-quarter to one-half.
Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, September, 2004

Death from Breast Cancer

Women who exercise one to three hours per week can reduce their risk of dying from breast cancer by 23%. Women who exercise 3 to 5 hours per week can reduce their risk of dying by 54%
American Association for Cancer Research, March, 2004

Colorectal Cancer

A 20-year study, involving 2,500 men and women, aged 30 to 74, found that long-term regular exercisers reduced their risk of colon cancer by 69%.
American Journal of Epidemiology, November, 2004

Men and women who exercise regularly lower their risk for rectal cancer by 40% to 50%.
American Journal of Epidemiology, September, 2003

Uterine Cancer

Research conducted at the Shanghai Cancer Institute, involving 62,573 women for 10 years, found that sedentary women are 54% more likely to develop uterine cancer than women who exercise 3 to 6 hours per week.
American Association For Cancer Research, December, 2004

Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic Syndrome is a deadly mix of risk factors including high cholesterol, high blood sugar, high blood pressure and excess abdominal fat. Research conducted at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that a six month program of regular exercise could reduce the incidence of patients with metabolic syndrome by 41%
American Journal of Preventive Medicine, January, 2005

A 17-year study, conducted at the Yale University School of Medicine, found that regular exercise of any kind helps lower cholesterol (LDL), blood sugar, blood pressure, keeps weight down, and improves mental outlook.
British Journal of Sports Medicine, August, 2004

Cognitive Decline

Regular exercise is not only a hedge against cognitive decline, but it is also associated with improvement in cognitive function.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, March, 2004

For older Americans, for every single higher unit of BMI (5 to 7 pounds), there is an 11% to 14% increase in the risk of brain atrophy.
Neurology, November 23, 2004

A 10-year study of 259 men, aged 81 to 100, found that sedentary men experienced 3.5 times greater mental decline than the men who maintained a high level of physical activity.
Neurology, December 28, 2004


For the 65 million American adults who suffer from hypertension, and the additional 45 million Americans who suffer from pre-hypertension, there are only three lifestyle modifications that can reduce the risk of serious heath problems

Archives of Internal Medicine, October 25, 2004

Cardiovascular Disease

A 15-year study, involving 4,000 young men and women, aged 18-30, found that those who exercised least were "much more likely" to develop heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension in their middle years.
JAMA, May 2, 2004

Heart Attack & Death From Heart Disease

A study involving 120,000 patients at the Cleveland Clinic estimated that 80% to 90% of heart attacks could be traced to lifestyle factors, including smoking, eating too much, and exercising too little.
JAMA, May 2, 2004

Research conducted at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine, involving 9,790 men and women for 17 years, found that those who exercised least had cardiovascular death rates 55% higher than those who exercised most.
American Journal of Preventive Medicine, May, 2004


"Physicians should be offering all patients with depression a program of exercise to overcome their symptoms. Exercise could prove to be a more effective form of therapy for some forms of depression than pills."
British Mental Health Foundation, April, 2005


A 15-year study involving 2,200 diabetic men found that the death rate for the least fit men was 7 times higher than the death rate for the most fit.
Diabetes Care, January, 2004

Erectile Dysfunction

Research conducted at the Center for Obesity Management in Naples, Italy, found that the men who exercised most and lost the most weight had better erections than those who exercised less (or not at all) and lost less weight.
JAMA, June 23, 2004

Independent Living

A 14-year study, involving 171 women, whose average age was 74 at the beginning of the study, found that those who were "most consistent" about getting regular exercise were "most likely" to be living independently 14 years later.
Archives of Internal Medicine, November, 2003

Parkinson's Disease

Regular exercise has been shown to halt the progression of the degeneration of nerve cells that are normally destroyed by Parkinson's.
Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, October, 2004

Relief of Chronic Back Pain

Research involving 1,300 men and women suffering from chronic back pain found that the optimal treatment for relief involved:
1) General Practitioner involvement
2) Spinal manipulation
3) A 12-week "Back To Fitness" program.
British Medical Journal, November 19, 2004


A review of 23 international studies concluded that highly active people have 27% lower risk of having a stroke or dying from a stroke...than people who do not exercise.
Stroke, October, 2003

Research conduced at University Hospital in Goteburg, Sweden, which tracked 7,400 men for 28 years, found that those with a BMI of more than 30 are 93% more likely to suffer a stroke than those with a healthy BMI.
Stroke, October, 2004

A 10-year study, involving 17,000 men, at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, TX, found that the incidence of stroke among "high fit" men was 72% lower than it was among "low fit" men.
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, April, 2002

Excess Weight & Health Problems

Research involving 73,000 adults, aged 50 to 76, at the Fred Hutchison Cancer Center in Seattle, WA found that excess weight correlates to 37 serious health conditions in women and 29 conditions in men.
American Journal of Preventive Medicine, December, 2004

Research conduced at Northwestern University, involving 6,800 men and women for 26 years, found that those who are overweight in their middle years are more likely to report physical, emotional, and social well-being problems in later years.
Archives of Internal Medicine, November 10, 2004

Healthy Aging

A 9-year study, involving 6,400 adults, aged 39 to 63, conducted at University College, London, found that those who exercised 2.5 hours (or more) each week were the least likely to report limitations in physical function.
American Journal of Preventive Medicine, April, 2005

All Cause Mortality

An 11-year study, involving 13,344 men and women, found that the least fit men died at a rate 3.4 times greater than the most fit men. The least fit women died at a rate 4.6 times greater than the most fit women.
JAMA, November 3, 1989

An 8 year study, involving 9,611 adults in their 50's and 60's, conducted at the University of Michigan Medical School found that those who exercised regularly during that period were 38% less likely to die than those who were sedentary.
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise November, 2004