Chris Smyth Health Editor The Times
Last updated at 12:01AM, February 13 2015
Cycling to work, dancing and even having sex are “miracle cures” for deadly diseases, according to a report by the leaders of Britain’s doctors.
Exercise is as good as many drugs but some doctors have forgotten about a radically effective treatment that is “staring them in the face”, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges says.
People should fit half an hour of activity into their daily routine to slash their chances of cancer, dementia or heart disease, the report recommends after analysing more than 200 studies..
“Exercise is as good as many of the drugs out there but it’s not been sold like that before,” said Scarlett McNally, a surgeon who wrote the report. Just 30 minutes of moderate activity five days a week could make a “huge difference” and would be enough for most people..
This level of exercise can cut the risk of dementia, heart disease and some cancers by a third, research has shown. It can help patients with depression, keep diabetes under control and make prostate cancer much less likely to spread. Mrs McNally also said she had come to realise that many of her elderly patients with fractured hips could have avoided the injury if they had taken just a little bit more exercise.
“What we are seeing in our hospitals and surgeries up and down the country is that ‘normal’ has become not enough exercise. Too many of my patients are paying the price for that with broken bones and years of ill health that could have been avoided by being more active,” she said.
 “When you fit it into your daily routine so it’s just what you do, you become fitter and healthier without having to force it,” she said.
Professor Dame Sue Bailey, chairwoman of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, said: “There really is a miracle cure staring us in the face, one which too many patients and doctors have quite simply forgotten about . . . if physical activity was a drug it would be classed as a wonder drug.”

Maureen Baker, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, said: “GPs are well-placed to educate our patients about the benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle, and today’s report shows how incorporating a modest amount of exercise into our daily routines can ensure our long-term health.

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