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Exercise 'overlooked' as chronic disease treatment

Photo: Exercise 'overlooked' as disease treatment
Experts have come up with a guide to prescribing exercise, which they say can be just as beneficial as drugs for chronic health conditions.

Exercise can be just as beneficial as drugs or surgery for many chronic conditions, say researchers.

But it's often overlooked as a treatment for conditions like hip and knee osteoarthritis, low back pain, diabetes and heart disease.

"Many doctors and their patients aren't aware exercise is a treatment for these chronic conditions and can provide as much benefit as drugs or surgery and typically with fewer harms," says lead author, Dr Tammy Hoffmann of Bond University's Centre for Research in Evidence-Based Practice.
The review, published in Canadian Medical Association Journal, analysed evidence for using particular exercise interventions for a number of chronic conditions.

The authors came up with a how-to guide for health care professionals to prescribe exercise for specific chronic diseases. 

They say simply prescribing exercise, in a generic sense, is insufficient guidance to a patient and unlikely to achieve benefits, saying it must be tailored to the condition.

"Lack of awareness among physicians and patients about the effectiveness of the different types of exercise, poor descriptions of exercises in studies and lack of training for health care practitioners are factors affecting underprescription," Dr Hoffmann said.

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