Exercise as an Alternative Therapy
Lyn W. Freeman
G. Frank Lowlis
This chapter addresses the use of exercise as complementary treatment for the conditions of cardiovascular and pulmonary disease and emotional dysfunction.
There is evidence supporting aerobic exercise as a primary treatment for these conditions. Too often, unhealthy lifestyle habits are significant contributors to disease progression. Recognition of this fact, applied as a simple lifestyle adjustment, can in many cases reverse or improve disease effects.
There are known physiologic pathways that explain the health effects of exercise, and health benefits have been empirically demonstrated in controlled experiments. From these experiments, specific exercise protocols have been developed for addressing symptoms of disease. The integration of appropriate, well-researched exercise protocols with the approaches of conventional medical can result in the optimal treatment of cardiovascular, pulmonary, and depressive disorders.
This chapter focuses on three primary conditions that are significantly improved by exercise: cardiovascular disease, pulmonary dysfunction, and depression.
An overview is provided of the function of the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems. Clinical research on outcomes of exercise as treatment for cardiovascular disease and pulmonary dysfunction are examined. Evidence that exercise modulates mood state is also explored. Indications and contraindications for exercise therapy are presented as road maps for prescriptions and recommendations of exercise for optimal health outcomes. Effects of exercise on immune function and other disease states are discussed.
Implications for exercise as primary medicol treatment are briefly examined. No explicit recommendations are made for preventive medicine, outside of the fact that moderate exercise appears to extend life.