Exercise medicine gaining 'traction' in Malaysia - medical specialists

By V. Sankara Subramaniam

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 11 (Bernama) -- Exercise medicine, which is increasingly gaining acceptance in Malaysia, has the potential of reducing the risk of getting Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), which is on the rise if executed in the right manner, according to specialists from the medical fraternity.

No doubt the government has yet to legislate exercise as a form of treatment for chronic diseases, doctors felt that prescribing the right dosage of exercise to patients suffering from early NCDs can be a first course of treatment to prevent four main NCDs namely hypertension, diabetes, obesity and dyslipidemia.

Medical specialists felt that the exercise therapy which had the potential to be an alternative remedy to conventional medicine in preventing NCDs had proven to produce many positive changes to the human body if executed in the right manner.

According to Dr Hashbullah Ismail, a cardiac rehabilitation specialist, exercise training has now become a cornerstone for implementing more efficient therapeutic approaches to improve quality of life.

"A systematic review which reported data from 16 countries found out that over two-thirds of the countries surveyed reported improved quality of life in Chronic Heart Failure (CHF) patients who exercised," he told Bernama in an exclusive interview here, recently.

Dr Hashbullah, who heads the clinical exercise physiology and rehabilitation unit under Faculty of Sports Science in UiTM, Shah Alam said exercise training in patients with chronic heart failure is useful for improving their psychosocial status where exercise has the potential to provide 'almost 70 per cent rehabilitation rate for heart complications'.

Meanwhile, Dr Goh Eng Hong who is an urologist, said exercise and physical activities generally are regarded as tools in managing metabolic diseases.

"Evidences are gaining attention that exercise is also beneficial in the disease progression of cancer, ranging from prevention to palliation, whether physiologically or mentally," he said.

Head of Physiotherapy department of Lincoln University College in Petaling Jaya, Dr Ravikumar Katta said exercise can be used as a 'medicine' for managing established Alzheimer's disease where exercise may raise brain chemicals that help protect nerve cells.

"The regular practice of walking improves cognition in Alzheimer's disease, while strength training is particularly more effective for improving postural and motor function, and reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer, since it improves muscle mass and strength," he said.

Meanwhile, commenting on recent reports saying Malaysia has the highest obesity prevalence in Southeast Asia, Dr Nur Farhana Abdul Hadi, who is an exercise therapist said exercise medicine is an essential part of any weight-loss programme and should become a permanent part of our lifestyle especially among the women.

Meanwhile, exercise medicine expert, Prof Dr Lee Chee Peng said Malaysia will be hosting the second World Conference on Exercise Medicine (WCEM) in Melaka from Sept 24 to 26.

Lee who is WCEM vice-chairman said the long-term effects of breastfeeding in preventing NCDs is one of the key topics which will be deliberated during the conference.

He also called for the setting up of an exercise clinic in all districts in the country to encourage behavioral change to reduce the risk of getting NCDs.

The clinic, he said, should provide a wide range of services in helping people to prevent chronic diseases besides featuring a fully computerised exercise prescription protocol to treat and intervene border line NCDs with the right amount of exercise.

Prior to this, the Health Ministry had said an estimated 73 per cent of the total death in government hospitals were due to NCDs.




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