If there were a single drug that would offer you a longer, healthy life, would you take the pill? I recently posted an update on metformin, a common diabetes drug that seems to have anti-aging properties; it may also offer some protection against prostate cancer, especially when combined with statins. Another substance called rapamycin has been shown in lab studies with aging animals to restore youthful characteristics.
STOP! As of yet, you can’t pop a miracle pill that can bring back your youthful glow or prevent your aging body from further breakdown, because such a drug doesn’t exist. Or does it? What if there is such a thing, but it doesn’t exist as an oral tablet? If you’re willing to stretch your definition of “pill”, it may surprise you to learn that you already have access to such a wonder drug in your own body. It’s called exercise.
In 2015, three researchers from Spain proposed reframing exercise as a multi-purpose pill, or “polypill”, that can “prevent and/or treat almost every chronic disease, with obvious benefits such as its low cost and practical lack of adverse effects.”[i] More recently, Dr. Kevin Murach, assistant professor at the Exercise Science Research Center (U of Arkansas, Fayetteville) made an even more radical statement, “Exercise is the most powerful drug we have.”[ii]
The basis for this statement is scientific research showing that exercise stimulates specific gene expression that actually reprogram muscle fibers to a more youthful state, as demonstrated in experiments with mice. And exercise is beneficial not only for muscles, but for every system in the body. It not only helps lose weight—which combats cardiovascular disease and diabetes, or metabolic syndrome—but it activates anti-inflammatory processes to help prevent cancer. In fact, for men who are already victims of incurable metastatic prostate cancer, exercise may help extend their life.
Think about it. Why would you take a pharmaceutical agent that affects biological processes in your body by working on your natural molecules—but which can lead to unwanted side effects—when you can head to the gym or go for a brisk walk and enable your own biological processes to do what nature intended with no risk of side effects other than muscle aches from waking them up?
I have posted many blogs on the importance of exercise for men at risk of prostate cancer, or men who are already diagnosed and treated. What inspired me to write this blog is Dr. Murach’s quote about exercise as the single most powerful drug with multiple beneficial outcomes. There is no other “polypill” that comes close. Best of all, you don’t need to open either your mouth (for a pill) or your wallet (to pay for a prescription). The only cost is your time, which is a small price to pay for a lifetime of vitality, robust energy, and a healthy body less likely to succumb to disease or die early.
What’s your drug of choice? Free weights? Racket sports? The elliptical machine? Swimming? Or any of the other seemingly endless choices and variations that get your body moving? Choose your “favorite flavor” which will help keep you motivated. Make exercise a pleasurable lifetime habit in order to enjoy a long lifetime of healthy pleasure.
NOTE: This content is solely for purposes of information and does not substitute for diagnostic or medical advice. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing pelvic pain, or have any other health concerns or questions of a personal medical nature.
[i] Pareja-Galeano H, Garatachea N, Lucia A. Exercise as a Polypill for Chronic Diseases. Prog Mol Biol Transl Sci. 2015;135:497-526.
[ii] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/study-reveals-how-exercise-turns-back-the-clock-in-aging muscles?