Exercise is the best medicine, says expert

Exercise is like medicine, something you can do to promote health and wellbeing

Exercise is like medicine, something you can do to promote health and wellbeing. And being fit reduces your risk of many diseases including diabetes and cancer, according to a fitness and exercise expert.

Prof Niall Moyna works in the Centre for Preventive Medicine in Dublin City University’s school of health and human performance. He has no doubts about the benefits that accrue from being fit.

“People who are fit have a lower risk of many diseases, all of the main problems that affect society,” he said. This includes cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease among others.

Yesterday he delivered a talk, the Biology of Fitness, an event organised as part of Science Week. “Exercise is medicine,” he told The Irish Times prior to his talk.


He said our health system only intervenes when someone has become ill, rather than helping them to stay well and avoid disease. “If you are healthy you would not get access to services such as health screening, but as soon as you are sick you get the best of treatment,” he said.

He argued for a shift from this disease-based approach to a health-based approach in the form of “primary prevention”. The decline in levels of exercise and increase in obesity in most developed countries have helped fuel the disease-oriented system. The diseases associated with our increasingly sedentary lifestyles has prompted research into “sedentary biology”, he said.

Dick Ahlstrom

Dick Ahlstrom

Dick Ahlstrom, a contributor to The Irish Times, is the newspaper's former Science Editor.