Another Unexpected Benefit of Exercise

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Consistent, easy on the body exercising will help out most health issues. Almost any health issue will be less reactive, less irritated, and recover quicker, when someone is exercising consistently.

Recently, a study came out proving the benefits of exercise on depression. The study is going to be published in the journal Cell.

It has been known anecdotally that exercise helps improve our mental outlook. Its effects on mood elevation are well known. Exercise releases endorphins and other feel good hormones that are responsible for the “runner’s high.”  This runner’s high can keep people exercising for years.

Nothing beats that post workout feeling. You feel good, little to no pain, your body is tingling all over, you can move easily and with few restrictions, you have a strong sense of accomplishment, you feel more at ease and at peace, and you sleep better afterwards.

So how can exercise affect stress induced depression, other than from releasing those feel good hormones like endorphins?

“In neurobiological terms, we actually still don’t know what depression is. Our study represents another piece in the puzzle, since we provide an explanation for the protective biochemical changes induced by physical exercise that protect the brain from being damaged during stress,” said Mia Lindskog, researcher at the Department of Neuroscience at Karolinska Institute.

Researchers from the Karolinska Institute are publishing a study that shows that exercise training induces changes in skeletal muscle that can purge the blood of a substance that accumulates during periods of stress, and is harmful to the brain.

It has been known that a specific protein (PGC-1a1) increases in skeletal muscle with exercise. Researchers at the Karolinska Institute tested regular mice and mice with an increased level of the protein PGC-1a1. These mice were all subjected to irregular and jarring stresses.

The researchers found that the well trained muscles (with increased levels of the protein PGC-1a1) in the mice produce a substance (called KAT), that converts a substance formed during stress (kynurenine) into kynurenic acid, which cannot pass from the blood into the brain.

The function of kynurenine is not known. But it is found in high levels in those with mental illness. The researchers demonstrated that when normal mice were given kynurenine, they demonstrated depressive behavior. While mice who had high levels of PGC-1a1 in their muscles were unaffected by depression. This is because the PGC-1a1 converted the kynurenine into kynurenic acid, protectively.

“Skeletal muscle appears to have a detoxification effect that, when activated, can protect the brain from insults and related mental illness,” said Jorge Ruas, another researcher from the Karolinska Institute.

There are so many beneficial effects to exercise. This is just one more reason to exercise. Not only does exercise benefit our bodies, but know it is being discovered that exercise also beneficially affects our brains.

In his book “Spark”’ John Ratay shows how exercise affects the brains of young children. In his book, he discusses research that studied the effects of physical activity on children before taking tests. The contrast between children who exercised before taking tests versus the ones who had not moved around before taking tests was huge. The children who moved around before the tests had much higher scores and cognitively functioned at a higher level.

This lead researchers to call exercise “miracle grow for the brain.” They prove that exercise produces the release of human growth hormone in the brain. This hormone aids in the laying down of neurological pathways that become memories. Pretty cool that exercise actually helps form memories.

Exercise also helps to increase blood flow and therefore oxygen to the brain which helps increase focus and awareness. If you want to be more productive at work or school, exercise at the beginning of the day, or in the middle of the day to give yourself a mood and energy boost.

I am continually amazed at the beneficial effects exercise has on our bodies. Exercise is the only miracle pill we have. It is the only fountain of youth out there. It will keep you moving, and feeling young. It will keep you active, and make you less injury prone. It will make traumatic injuries less severe, and it will decrease traumatic events.

Studies show that the leading cause of traumatic spinal injury (fracturing a vertebrae, severing the spinal cord, breaking a hip, etc) in those over age 65 is from falling. The leading cause of falling in those over age 65 is from a lack of hip mobility. Tightness builds up over time to make someone less and less mobile. This lack of mobility eventually affects balance, thus making someone more likely to fall and injure themselves. And the older we get, the worse falling will affect us. As my 95 year old Uncle Mort said, the older he got, the harder the ground got.

Aging is cumulative. If you can manage your body through consistent, sustainable, easy on the body exercises then you will slow down the aging process. Your mind and body will function better the older you get. The more you can exercise, the less your body and mind will decline as you age.

Exercise is the only fountain of youth we have. Take advantage of it.

Remember though, it is not necessary to go hard with exercise. If you are over the age of 35, then chances are you are not going to be a professional athlete, so don’t train like one. Heavy, intense, high impact exercise will only cause your body to break down. Choose exercises that are easy on the body and that you can stick with for many years to come. And stick with without injuring yourself. Choose exercises that don’t hurt. Choose exercises that won’t cause an injury.

Pain Free Lifestyle is set up so that you can stick with it for years, without causing injury. It consists of easy on the body exercises that are low impact and will not cause injury. They will not hurt you. I personally handpicked each exercise because they are easy on the body and you will be able to stick with for years to come.

Exercise is beneficial in so many ways for your body. If you exercise smarter, rather than harder, then you will be able to stick with exercise long enough to benefit from it.

Exercise intelligently.  It is the Pain Free Way.



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