Harvard Health Letter

Is exercise really medicine?

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Free medicine: Physical activity is often as effective as drugs when it comes to preventing death from diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The many benefits of physical activity are continually backed by mounting research.

Exercise is medicine. The expression started as the name of a health initiative and is now a catchphrase used by doctors, fitness experts, and others who want to motivate you to move. But is physical activity really as effective as prescription medications? "Yes, I do think of it as medicine, and even better, it's medicine that's free and has very few side effects," says Dr. I-Min Lee, a Harvard Medical School professor who studies the role of physical activity in preventing disease, promoting health and well-being, and enhancing longevity.

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