Exercise Best Preventative Medicine For Physical and Mental Health, Researchers Say

Exercise is good for you, and USA Today is ON it: The paper reports that researchers have found that exercise is the "best preventative drug" for lots of health problems. We're talking heart disease, cancers, and anxiety disorders. “[Exercise] works from tip to toe, and it prevents and in some cases treats the most common diseases we see,” the New-York-based Hospital for Special Surgery sports physician and author of The Exercise Cure physician, Jordan Metzl, said.

"Exercise strengthens the entire human machine - the heart, the brain, the blood vessels, the bones, the muscles," Timothy Church, physician and director of preventive medicine research at Baton Rouge's Pennington Biomedical Research Center, told USA Today. He added that exercising is the "most important thing you can do" for long-term health.

Of course, all those endorphins also make people happier: "I can't tell you how many people are off their meds because they exercise regularly," P90X founder Tony Horton, who probably really loves exercising, said. "Fit, healthier people are more productive, happier folks."

The "new" findings complement a meta-study published in October, which looked at 57 randomized trials addressing the effects of exercise and medication in regards to one of four health issues: secondary prevention of heart disease, stroke recovery, treating heart attacks, and preventing Type 2 diabetes. Findings suggested that stroke rehab was more successful with an exercise regimen than with drugs, while heart failure was the only one clearly more treatable with diuretic medication.

Americans should probably get on board: only 21 percent of the population meets the federal recommendations for getting active — that's 2.5 hours of moderate activity (e.g. brisk walking) each week. (And that's the optimistic percentage — other studies suggest that fewer than five percent of adults get 30 minutes of moderate-intense activity a day).

The good news? All of those hours you spent trying to learn this dance in front of your mirror totally counts.