Exercise is a Must!

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

To exercise the body doesn’t have to be a complicated affair, it basically has to be a physical stress that is slightly or a bit more than slightly uncomfortable. A walk around the block doesn’t count, because it’s not uncomfortable. It is the discomfort that comes from stress or challenge or exercise that must be respected and exploited if we are to become optimally healthy. The discomfort is not necessarily pain, it simply has to be uncomfortable. Like the kind of feeling you get when you’re on a treadmill and your body feels you to get off but your brain says one more minute. Or when you’re running around the block and your body tells you to stop, but you’re brain says don’t you dare.

Exercise in space
It is this discomfort that overrides the body’s breakdown signals, In physics it’s called entropy and it basically means that unless something is growing, it’s breaking down.

Now, to slightly complicate matters, there are two kinds of breakdown. There is the breakdown that is caused acutely or quickly, such as the kind of breakdown that is experienced by muscles when you’re working out. And then there’s the kind of breakdown that occurs chronically over longer periods of time such as the kind that occurs after periods of disuse, malnourishment or long-term, low-key stress. The first kind, the work out, acute quick stress leads to a breakdown that stimulates growth while the longer, low-key kind, I call it the drip-drip drip kind of stress leads to a breakdown that does not result in growth. Rather, it causes a breakdown that leads to atrophy degeneration and accelerated aging.

So, there are two kind of bodily breakdown. One which results in atrophy, which is slow and low-key and long-term; it occurs over days and weeks and months and even years and a second which is adaptive and leads to growth It is quick, sharp and occurs over a period of seconds and minutes. We want to be avoiding the first and exploiting the second.

You see, when we were growing up, from a genetic point of view, in the African savannah 150 thousand years ago physical exercise told the body, from a biochemical and genetic perspective that spring was coming and it was time to grow. On the other hand when fall was arriving the body and its growth began to slow down, and fat was fat was stored rather than burned. So in essence working out to the point of discomfort or stress tells the body that it’s springtime and it’s youthful while sitting our butts tells the body that it’s winter and it’s old. So, unless we want to be cold and old we’ve got get some stimulation going.

And remember, you don’t need to get a full fledged gym membership or some fancy DVD workout programs. All you need to do is move your body parts to the point of discomfort. Lifting suitcases or stepping up and down on a stool are great exercises as is brisk, (BRISK!) walk around the block or in the park. Of course sports are great too as is swimming, but we’ve always got to be keeping in mind the other half of our continuum. Remember the floor of the triangle of health has a stress side and a rest side and our growth occurs during the recovery or rest side. So understanding the rest that occurs after stress is critical.

That’s the problem with the drip-drip-drip kind of stress. There’s no recovery or rest phase, thus there is no growth. It’s the see-saw balance between rest and stress that accounts for the growth. For those of you who like biochemistry, what is occurring is when the body is under stress it releases chemicals called CYTOKINES. Some of these cytokines lead to breakdown and inflammation and others lead to adaptation and growth. Well it turns out that inflammatory and decay cytokines are stimulated by long-term, low key stress, while acute, quick-acting stress triggers the release of adaptive growth cytokines and that’s what we’re looking for. As long as there is adequate rest and nutrition, you will always get a hypertrophic, growth response from this kind of “exercise” stress.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health