Although emphasizing it is not a magic bullet, experts are using the Exercise is Medicine Month to focus attention on the benefits of physical activity for overall health.
In particular, they say there is growing evidence exercise may help prevent or manage the symptoms of diabetes, arthritis as well as heart disease.
"We know exercise is a great preventative for chronic illnesses, but it should be included in the treatment planning of these illnesses, as well,"says Dr. Andrea Boyd, assistant professor of physiological and technological nursing in the Medical College of Georgia School of Nursing.
"Whether you’re healthy or not, exercise has the potential to improve quality of life and make you feel better, and this is a great time to get started," she adds.
However, she cautions physical activity is not a one-size-fits-all prescription, and before embarking on any routine it is important to explore which exercises benefit patients with heart failure, and which are best suited for hypertension or other conditions.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, $76 billion in annual direct medical costs can be attributed to physical inactivity which has been associated not only with obesity and diabetes but also cancer, depression and osteoporosis.