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This Doc's Miracle Drug? Exercise

NPR Science Friday—December 13, 2013

Jordan D. Metzl, MD, is a sports medicine physician at Hospital for Special Surgery. Dr. Metzl is widely known for his passion for sports and fitness. He takes care of athletic patients of all ages and lectures and teaches extensively both nationally and internationally.

IRA FLATOW: You know the old adage, an apple a day keeps the doctor away? Well, my next guest might add to that. How about a jog a day keeps the doctor away, or a set of pull-ups? His new book is a prescription pad for a variety of ailments. But what's different about this medical book is that there are no drugs recommended, no trips to the pharmacy.

Instead, he recommends tailored exercise regimens for exactly what ails you, whether it's strength training for menopause or yoga for anxiety, because he says exercise is a wonder drug that can cure a whole variety of conditions, maybe even help you fight cancer. And for all you sitting at your desk right now — yeah, you — he offers a few tips on how to build activity into your day, even if you have a sedentary office job.

Dr. Jordan Metzl is the author of "The Exercise Cure: A Doctor's All-Natural, No-Pill Prescription For Better Health & Longer Life." He's also a sports medicine doctor at Hospital for Special Surgery here in New York. Welcome to SCIENCE FRIDAY.

JORDAN METZL: It's a pleasure to be here, Ira. Great to see you.

FLATOW: You can cure all these things with exercise?

METZL: I mean, to me, the amazing thing is when you start thinking about the different medical problems that we see across the spectrum of being human and you look at many of these problems, the data on exercise, both as disease treatment and as disease prevention is just so incredibly compelling that putting all that together for this book was just such a profound experience in terms of getting that message to people and encouraging them to use exercise as medicine.

FLATOW: And how much? Do they have to go and get, you know, go sweat up at the gym every day? How much exercise are we talking about?

METZL: Well, you must know that you're talking to a self-professed exercise fanatic. So...

FLATOW: (Laughing) Okay, that's on the table.

METZL: That's on the table. I've done 31 marathons now and I want all my patients — and I encourage every one of my patients to move as much as they can.

FLATOW: I think I've walked that far in my whole lifetime, but go on.

METZL: But the benefits of exercise really kick in after about 150 minutes a week. So I need about two and a half hours a week out of everybody listening to this broadcast to really reap the benefits of exercise. And everything on top of that is gravy.

Listen to the story at npr.org.



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