When you visited your doctor for your last check-up, did they ask you about your exercise routine? It is common for doctors to make the recommendation for their client to exercise, but it is becoming even more common for doctors to prescribe exercise for treatment of disease the same way they would medication.

Many of the chronic diseases we face today are due to our lifestyle. In some instances, genetic pre-disposition to a certain diseases are triggered by these environmental factors. Excessive body weight experienced by over 70% of those living in industrialized societies has been reported to be the single greatest cause of the epidemic of chronic disease and illness. The Pharmaceutical industry has a significant interest in helping with the treatment of chronic disease and illness. In some cases however, they have been reported to have created categories to add to their bottom line.

When we look at treatments for chronic disease, they generally fall into two categories:

Category 1- The Medical Model
The Medical model has as its’ foundation a patient who is given various treatments including surgeries or medication to help fight the disease. The patient is passive in this model.

Category 2-The Self-Help Model
The Self-Help model of treatment focuses on empowering the patient to take action to get better. There is strong evidence to support the notion that self-help models of disease treatment, management and prevention are far superior to those of the Medical variety.

The challenge is that for a patient to take a self-help model of treatment, they must agree that while they are not often responsible for their illness, they ARE responsible for what they do about it. The Self-Help model of pain management includes mind-body techniques, exercise, biofeedback, diet, nutritional counselling, maintenance treatments (massage once a month for example) and other activities like yoga. Over time it has been demonstrated that these Self-Help treatments are more effective than medical interventions.

Exercise is a powerful self-help tool. Using exercise as treatment for disease will result in a balanced weight and healthier body and mind. These are key components in the prevention and treatment of a number of diseases including Type2 Diabetes, various cancers and neurological conditions. Exercise will also help in preventing those diseases we know are linked to obesity or excessive weight.

I recommend a balanced approach – a medical model strategy if it is of a short term nature and is proven to work for your specific condition. For most diseases, using a self-help model with exercise for treatment will result in the best outcome!

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