TODAY

TODAY   |  December 17, 2013

Expert reveals why exercise is the best medicine

Dr. Jordan Metzel, author of “The Exercise Cure,” presents two examples of how beneficial exercise really is for both body and mind, including an 80-year-old marathon runner.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> on tour. and you can catch "the sing-off" tomorrow night here on nbc. up next, the exercise cure, a pre-drug that can treat anything that ails you. but first, this is "today" on nbc.

>>> they say laughter is the best medicine , but in reality, when it comes to treating everything in diabetes to depression it just might be exercise that is the best medicine . the and you had authorize of the new book the exercise cure, a doctor's all natural prescription for better health and longer life is with us. good to see you. we all know exercise is good for us, but you're taking the argument a step further.

>> that's right. everybody knows exercise is a good thing to do. the idea of the exercise cure is to take the science of exercise and really teach people this is a medicine . and to add structures that start with looking at things like the brain and all the way down the body, what is the science of exercise and how you at home, however old you are, set up an exercise program for yourself.

>> and you're not making the case that the exercise is a cure-all. for example, if you need to be on a certain medicine , give it up and just go jogging.

>> that's right. but we spend more than $350 billion in the united states on prescription medicines . we can reduce our costs of these -- money we're spending and make people healthier by using exercise as medicine .

>> one of the things you do is focus on real life examples and we have one this morning. david who was struggling with diabetes and exercise really helped him. let's take a look.

>> hi name is david , and i was diagnosed with diabetes in my 30s. i didn't know what diabetes was. and i was given a blood glucose meter , inside lynn and had to rebuild my life. he would test my blood sugar 11 times a day.lynn and had to rebuild my life. he would test my blood sugar 11 times a day. my doctor said one of the most important things i could do is exercise. by exercising, i'm pulling the sugar out of my blood. i swim three times a week. i'll be in the gym, do interval work on a treadmill, do the stair master . i know i'm taking care of my body and long term i know i'll be there for my family.

>> this is amazing. because of that exercise, he needs less insulin.

>> that's right. he's using exercise as medicine to reduce the amount of insulin he's taking. and diabetes are treated better with exercise. so the key points for david , he needs less insulin. number two, he's just much better able to control the chronic diseases that he has, in this case less diabetic complications. and the key point is it's not only diabetes. heart disease , high blood pressure , arthritis, we have great data on the use of exercise.

>> we're talking about physical ailments, but there is also a wonderful aspect, it really can improve the mood. we have another of your patients who talks about how it helped with her depression.

>> my name is elane. i elaine. i was devastated after my twin sister and husband died. my sister was always very outgoing. and my husband was an extraordinary man. suddenly i'm by myself. has given me a mental quality. when i come to the gym, i work with the leg presses, the kettle bells , and this is what gets me through. i'm a better person. who is that woman?

>> who is that woman. 80 years old and running marathons.

>> he's an incredible example. she's 80 years old and i think some of the most important information in my book on exercise and the brain, the key is exercise is a medicine . it works for depression, anxiety, sleep problems. different than the other medicines people take that all have significant side effects , exercise has none and that's why it's a great medicine to take.

>> a lot of people will say i'm sold, but they should probably consult their doctor especially before stopping any other medicines.

>> that's correct. i want people to do exercise at home, but your doctor is part of the equation. if you for example have high blood pressure or a heart problem or depression, you need to talk to your doctor about starting an exercise program and how you're going to take less of the medicines you might be on and use exercise as your medicine .

>> a thought-provoking book. thank you so much.