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Lifestyle Author: June M. Lay, M.S. - Lifestyle Columnist - Last Updated: Sep 7, 2017 - 10:06:33 PM

Let's Exercise - It's a Natural Medicine!

By June M. Lay, M.S. - Lifestyle Columnist -
May 12, 2012 - 1:43:24 PM

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( - "Exercise is a "Natural Medicine", I coined years ago, that is! In fact, "Exercise is Medicine" is the trademark for a National Initiative started by The American Heart Association and The American College of Sports Medicine. So during this month of May, let's start, revamp, increase, well you get my point; exercise and physical activity is the theme. In fact, one of my favorite TV programs, "The Doctor's" has also begun an initiative "Get Moving May!" in support of National Physical Fitness & Sports Month and in partnership with the President’s Challenge. "The Doctors" are encouraging everyone of us to get a jump start on a healthier lifestyle by getting active every single day in the month of May! For more info, and to get started go to All this month, we'll be discussing the "how to" exercise and get moving, but now let's look at some of the why's!

Exercise as a Natural Medicine is gaining popularity among us Americans and it is the system of medicine that focuses on the prevention and treatment of disease, overall health and well-being using natural therapies and products. Let's focus on exercise, my favorite natural medicine, because I wonder, "How many of us view exercise as medicine for our body"? I'm not sure how many of us do, but I can suggest that almost all of us can participate in some form of exercise and all of us can reap a benefit.

According to the "World Cancer Research Fund & The American Institute for Cancer Research" as stated in their "Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer's Global Perspective Report 2007, physical activity is vital to our health and prevention of cancer along with other important healthy lifestyle behaviors, of course.

Food, nutrition and physical activity all components of Natural Medicine and now traditional medicine, have joined together in the viewpoint that exercise is vital to our health and well being. Exercise plays a role in disease prevention that includes some cancers but it plays a vital role in all. Why? Regular moderate exercise benefits every body system! Here's how.

Exercise will

Increase our muscular strength, muscular endurance, and increase our bone density; all, which will lessen the risk for injury. As we strengthen our musculoskeletal system, we will function better in our daily lives during health & during illness, regardless of age, sex or weight.

Strengthen our cardiovascular system including our heart (our heart is a muscle); help to maintain elasticity of our blood vessels; help to lower our blood pressure and lower our heart rate and raise our HDL levels (that's the good cholesterol found in our blood). It will increase our circulation, hence the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to our body and brain while increasing the removal of waste products (this enhances our musculoskeletal system and daily functioning not to mention lowering our cardiovascular disease risk). Exercise will also aid the lymphatic circulation. Lymph circulation is aided by the contraction of muscles which aid flow of lymph fluid into the general circulation. Stronger muscles, stronger contractions.

Improve our digestion, elimination , our body's usage of body fat stores as a source of fuel for energy (isn't this an important one!), and weight management efforts. It will lower our risk of diabetes, and help us to utilize all those sugars we eat (the ones we're trying to avoid?).

Help to improve our mental and emotional processes. When we naturally increase our circulation, energy levels, daily functioning, and overall health, we improve our ability to think. When we participate in a regular moderate exercise routine, we provide ourselves with a healthy stress and tension reliever, aid our sleep and naturally help to improve our mood. Exercise has been shown to be as effective as some medications to relieve mild depression, and as long as we exercise safely, it is without side effects.

Aid our Immune System Function. Regular moderate exercise has been shown in many studies to increase the production and proliferation of key immune cells, which of course fight disease and may play a role in reoccurrence! In a meta-analysis first reported and published by the American Cancer Society in Cancer 2002, researchers set out to provide a systematic and comprehensive review of the existing literature examining exercise and immune function in cancer survivors. The authors reported that after examining 6 empirical articles published between 1994 and 2000, four of these studies reported a statistically significant improvement in several cancer related immune system components as a result of exercise. While they report limitations to these studies and a need for future research, they also reported promise to exercise as a benefit to cancer survivors particularly because exercise itself confers many other health benefits.

Boost energy levels that even the healthiest of us need from time to time. Light to moderate exercise may also benefit us when we are fighting a disease such as cancer as well. In a Meta-analysis conducted on 57 RCT (random controlled trials), there was a strong indication that exercise and along with other interventions such as psychological counseling provided reductions in cancer related fatigue, a significant problem reported by cancer patients.

A regular exercise program can help us to prevent disease, but it can also give us a head start to fight disease if we need to by our having a healthier and stronger body state as a baseline. It can empower us by helping us to feel stronger while it can empower us by just the action of taking a step on our own behalf.

So if we compare Naturopathic Medicine with Allopathic Medicine (traditional western medicine), Naturopathic Medicine works to prevent disease and create the optimum health state, while traditionally, Allopathic Medicine treats existing disease. But we can't go wrong starting and maintaining a regular exercise program because exercise is a therapy and lifestyle recommended by both medical disciplines!

Here's to Exercise, a Natural Medicine!

June M. Lay M.S.
Need some short term "eat -healthier" or "drop a few pounds" help? Contact me via reply to [email protected] for info on my new Telephonic Health & Weight Loss Coaching program. Individual sessions available as well. My book "It's NOT a Diet, it's Creative Eating!" available at

In addition, contact us for information on the new "10-week Personalized Get- in- Shape" Programs by emailing me or go Offered also are "Personal Exercise Only" Programs smartly designed to strengthen, condition, increase flexibility, and more with Ed Irace! Services provided in NYC, and nationally through Skype web service, email and phone when appropriate.

The information included here does not replace a physician's recommendations and/or traditional medicine. Please seek your doctor's approval before beginning a new exercise program if any pre-existing medical condition exists or if over 40.

Looking for a Naturopathic physician or more info? Go to or more info on Alternative/Complimentary Medicine and Natural Therapies? Go to

Junefit is a supporting organization and member of "Exercise is Medicine" a group of physicians, corporations and governmental agencies managed by the American College of Sports Medicine to advance the cause of Exercise as a medicine. For more info go to:

June is Lifestyle Columnist at

(c) all rights reserved 2012

Additional Sources:

Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine; Murray, Pizzorno.

Kangas M. et. al.; Cancer-related fatigue: A systematic and meta-analytic review of non-pharmacological therapies for cancer patients. Psychol Bull. 2008 Sep;134(5):700-41.Reported in Pubmed 18729569


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