Exercise is an inexpensive, natural preventative approach that you can implement into your daily schedule at your own pace. Hundreds of health benefits are associated with physical activity, ranging from weight loss to mood support. Even if you are eating a 100% organic, raw vegan diet, without exercise you’re missing an integral piece of the puzzle. A recent study presented at the American Physiological Society Conference is suggesting that taking vitamin C could promote similar heart effects as seen with exercise.  Those that shun exercise, however, may want to hold off their rejoicing.
Is Vitamin C as Effective as Exercise?
While certainly optimistic, the recent research comparing vitamin C supplementation to the benefits received from exercise are by no means conclusive. Researchers showed that while vitamin C could produce some cardiovascular benefits that are seen during and after exercise, it doesn’t offer the same metabolism-boosting, mind-supporting, and immune-boosting benefits that physical activity provides. Yes, vitamin C may produce these effects to some degree, but it’s exercise that shows a more noticeable shift toward these benefits. In fact, the combination of exercise plus a healthy diet maximizes the positive health effects.
Since this study merely looked at a single marker responsible for vascular health in obese people, it doesn’t show the wide-ranging metabolic benefits associated with vitamin C supplementation. Therefore, it’s highly unlikely that vitamin C can produce substantial weight loss benefits as seen in exercise, nor should vitamin C be seen as a substitute for physical activity. Researchers also didn’t examine the effects of vitamin C on blood pressure or cholesterol, two things that are naturally regulated by exercise.  Vitamin supplementation is a great insurance plan for your health but should never be seen as a replacement for anything a healthy diet and exercise routine can provide.
The Best Exercises for Heart Health
All exercise that increases your heart rate is going to benefit heart health, but walking, sprinting, and yoga are excellent heart-strengthening exercises you can enjoy regardless of your fitness level. Stress reduction is another “exercise” that you should practice daily in order to reap benefits for heart health. Since stress impacts the heart dramatically, it’s important to practice meditation or any other stress-management technique. Also, be sure you’re getting plenty of sleep and are exercising out in the sun to gain vitamin D-producing benefits. Vitamin D is another excellent vitamin that may protect the heart.
What are your thoughts about using supplements as a replacement for exercise and/or a healthy lifestyle? Give us your two cents in the comments.
-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM