Exercise Benefits the Sick more than the Well

In 2008 the U.S. Federal Government issued new exercise guidelines for the general population. A recent survey examined the reduction in mortality experienced by people who followed these recommendations. The study was based on nearly 250,000 people.   

People who met the aerobic activity goals experienced substantial survival benefits. Interestingly, those who benefited most were sick people with chronic medical conditions who forced themselves to exercise in spite of their disability.

Aerobic exercises reduced mortality the most. Strengthening exercises using weights alone did not prolong life but did provide some additional survival benefits to those who were already engaged in aerobic activities. The benefits of exercise were most pronounced for adults who had at least one chronic condition. 

The first graph shows the reduced risk of dying for adults who are well. The second graph shows the reduced risk of dying for those who have at least one chronic condition.

The risk of dying was reduced by almost 50% for those who did aerobic activity in spite of having chronic medical conditions. The risk of dying was only reduced by about 25% for those who were well. If you have chronic health problems — exercise could save your life!

This confirms the recommendations of Ellen White, a 19th century health reformer, who advised an active lifestyle more than 100 years ago. “Exercise, sunlight, and air are the blessings which Heaven has provided to make the sick well and to keep in health those who are not sick.” (Testimonies for the Church, vol 2, 534)