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Healing Through Exercise propounds relentlessly the mantra that exercise has healing power. The author, Jorg Blech, is the U.S. based science correspondent for DER SPIEGEL magazine. The book is loosely structured, substantively, as a review of selected research materials drawn from the worldwide biomedical literature and associated with the issue of exercise and possible healing. Stylistically, the book is written in a relatively informal, and quite lay reader friendly, manner. Significantly, however, there is no in depth, critically comparative analysis undertaken by Blech of peer reviewed scientific data. In consequence, the scientific foundation built by Blech, in possible support of the views and conclusions that he vents quite energetically, is relatively weak.
But the intellectual toil of Blech may alert skeptical readers, who are medical clinicians, of the possibility of relative clinical benefits of exercise (compared to alternative treatment options, such as prescription drugs or surgery), and encourage clinicians to prescribe exercise, as indicated by critical, independent review of the pertinent biomedical literature.
The writing efforts of Blech may also help focus the discerning gaze of medical researchers on the need to further investigate, and attempt to fill, extant gaps in research knowledge in the area of exercise and possible healing.
The textual body is referenced considerably. The respective references are presented in the "Notes" structural section, following the text. These references provide citations for a multitude of research materials; a few of the references are annotated briefly.
The substantive terrain of the text is further populated abundantly with text enlivening snippets in the form of quotes. Many of the quoted fragments are referenced, albeit some are not.
A thematic current coursing powerfully through the substantive water of the text is that the potential therapeutic value of exercise is underappreciated by many mainstream medical practitioners, and that exercise likewise is underprescribed by many practitioners in the mainstream of medicine. Blech endeavors to remedy these perceived deficiencies by painting a fourteen chapter long picture, revealing some of the general features of the realm of medical science and exercise.
The wide sweeping brush of Blech, in a generalized, scientifically unrigorous way, expansively covers a substantive canvas with commentary enveloping: diabetes, metabolism, heart health, muscles, bones, joints, back pain, the brain, psychiatric health, neurogenesis, cancer, and longevity. Across the length and breadth of this canvas, Blech forcefully propels the overarching thematic message that exercise has healing power, which, however, is underappreciated and underutilized by many health professionals.
From a critical perspective, readers insistent on conclusions and views, about healing associated possibly with exercise, moored firmly to referenced scientific data may look askance at the discourse of Blech as being tethered with insufficient tightness to critically evaluated, peer reviewed data.
Critics may, as well, caution readers that, whereas Blech's intellectual camera has taken a snapshot of selected research materials available at a particular moment in time, the picture of research data (germane to medical science, healing and exercise) is subject potentially to dynamic change, as new studies are published.
In a different vein, cautious persons may admonish readers that it is ill advised to misuse the book's contents as a surrogate for the professional counsel of qualified medical practitioners concerning particular personal health concerns.
On the other side of the ledger, it is importantly noteworthy that Blech focuses readers' attention sharply on the thematic message that exercise heals, and his book may help foment further clinical and research interest relevant to this theme.
This very fine book should be of greatly appealing interest to lay readers. The distinct perspective advanced quite forthrightly by Blech, through the medium of this book, may, additionally, ignite a fire of curiosity engulfing professionals in many strata, including: sports medicine physicians, exercise physiologists, physical therapists, epidemiologists, pharmacists, pharmaceutical industry professionals, orthopedic doctors, neuroscientists, neurologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, family medicine physicians, cardiologists, internists, pediatricians, oncologists, gerontologists, biologists, biochemists, and health policy makers.
© 2009 Leo Uzych
Leo Uzych (based in Wallingford, PA) earned a law degree, from Temple University; and a master of public health degree, from Columbia University. His area of special professional interest is healthcare.