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Consumer Reports: Exercise as medicine

Consumer Reports: Exercise as medicine. (MGN)

When you're not feeling well, should you reach for a pill or your workout gear? Consumer Reports now says you might be better off hitting the gym.

When Sandra Wingate discovered she had Type 2 Diabetes, her doctor prescribed dietary changes, medication and regular exercise.

"If I keep with exercise and the diet changes, I will be off medication in a few months," she said.

In fact, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found nearly one in 10 participants were able to give up diabetes medication altogether. That comes after two years on a program that included exercise and dietary changes.

"For chronic lower back pain, new guidelines from the American College of Physicians say you should try non-drug therapies, including exercise before you pop a pill," said Consumer Reports' health and food editor Trish Calvo.

For arthritis sufferers, weight training can build muscle strength thereby reducing pressure on joints and improving stability.

"It's important to learn how to use weights correctly from a certified trainer or a physical therapist to avoid worsening joint pain," Calvo said.

Strength training can help people with diabetes too. The more muscle you, have the less likely you are to store extra glucose as fat.

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