Being more active improves your ability to prevent damage and recover

merry go round

The overwhelming feeling I get when reviewing all I’ve learned about the benefits of exercise is that the most important benefit you get is the ability to recover from any risk you take or damage or injury you incur.

Take this tweet

FFA transporters move to the plasma membrane during endurance exercise to bring more fat into the muscle. Our muscles are smart #GSSIXP

I need to find the actual source for this insight, unfortunately Kimberley didn’t cite an article because she was tweeting from a conference. That aside it’s becoming increasingly clear that all fuels that humans use for energy are dangerous when not controlled properly. Not surprising when you consider that all fuels we use outside the body like wood, oil and gas are also dangerous when not used and stored properly.

It turns out that fat, sugar and protein are all dangerous if not properly controlled. So too are other chemicals used by the body. Salt being an obvious example because one researcher, marc peletier specifically attributes salt regulation to heart disease.

So the good news is that exercise is natures way of regulating all these dangerous chemicals. The bad news is that not all the research is conclusive yet so let me give you a quick run down of what I have found.

  • Sugar: AKA Carbohydrate: Your exercise performance depends greatly on your ability to use sugar so exercise improves your ability to control and use it. Exercise targets the Glucose transporters specifically type 4 which are regulated by insulin which ensures the body can regulate sugar properly
  • Fat: Fat is of course the fuel you want to use the most of yet most people don’t know that your ability to burn fat depends on your ability to mobilise it but also your ability to use carbohyrdate. The saying goes that “You can only burn fat in a carbohydrate  flame” so of course exercise improves sugar and fat mobilisation and use. Insulin also controls fat release but the mechanism is yet to be fully understood. New evidence is coming to light but whether that includes insulin response we will find out.
  • Protein: Protein is half sugar and half amine. The amine part is toxic in large quantities so just like sugar it needs tight regulation. Exercise requires protein partly for fuel but mainly for building and repair work. What exercise does is push the body to become more able to handle the forces applied to it. Therefore it becomes less likely to break under strain. At the same time it creates a strong need to use protein and thus the systems to regulate protein become efficient and tightly regulated.
  • Salt: Salt and salts are actually crucial to the body because they have very useful chemical properties. Two very important functions are to help draw water in and out of the body as required making it easier to regulate water and keep the whole body healthy. The other is to supply the calcium and sodium required by nerves in saltatory conduction. Your entire nervous system including your brain, spine and motor circuits require specific amounts of calcium to repeatedly send message around the body
  • Water: The biggest improvement your body makes when you exercise is in water regulation. This is because every system in the body works better when water is controlled properly. Plenty of studies show that carbohydrate and fat don’t get digested or used properly if the water around them is not correct which is the basis of the sports drinks industry. Exercise puts the greatest strain possible on the bodies ability to supply, transport and regulate water and so it is no surprise that exercise forces the body to keep the required systems up to date.

As you can see from this analysis exercise puts a great and regular demand on all the body as a whole. This act itself forces the body to bring itself up to standard and reminds the body how it is supposed to work and that it must prepare for challenges. The challenge of exercise no longer exists in modern sedentary life and we haven’t yet evolved to handle this. So without the regular challenge of movement the body and its systems fall into disrepair. This is the reason that obesity, heart disease, diabetes and other diseases of western life are all being recognised as the result of the body not working as it normally would and that those who are regularly active suffer much less from these diseases if they suffer at all.

Coming from this angle you see from my list that several keys aspects of the body are kept functioning by activity. From the ability to use fuel to the ability to supply water. At the same time the improvements made to bodily systems to make this happen reduce the damage caused when these systems are not maintained.

Related articles

Purging cells in mice is found to combat aging ills  senescent cells hasten aging in the tissues in which they accumulate. Exercise and calorie restriction are two important ways to encourage this purging process. Exercise though is much more important in preparing the body to do the process well. Calorie restriction can trigger the process but it has an arbitrary focus, as likely to purge heart muscle cells and faulty ones. Exercise forces the body to be more practical and calculating. Building up the resources and workflow to purge effectively rather than randomly. Directing the efforts of calorie restriction in a more organised and beneficial way.

The mathematics of weight loss: Ruben Meerman at TEDxQUT really well presented explanation of the basics of weight loss. You lose weight by eating less and moving more and breathing. He cuts right through many of the myths and explains specifically what happens. Doesn’t cover the challenges of doing this. Just focuses on the specific reliable equations that you should actually care about. I would like to see if it helps people understand the process itself more and believe in it.

The underappreciated Role of Muscle in Health and Disease Muscle isn’t susceptible to cancer. We don’t yet know why but we’re learning. Muscles affect us more than we know encouraging the transfer of sugar around our body and reducing insulin resistance and diabetes.

The Role of Water Homeostasis in Muscle Function and Frailty explores the relationship with recovers of water in cells and surrounding tissues and frailty through loss of muscle function. It is a complex and very important topic related to ageing. It highlights that as we age we require more self care not less to help our bodies retain the recovery abilities that we take for advantage when we are younger.

These are the things I already know and this talk by Jamie Scott adds even more to why being strong can give you a happy future

How activity and exercise improves your health

Child running around a wet play area

For years we have been told that exercise is good for us. Now the evidence is becoming indisputable.  Being inactive is as bad as smoking or drinking too much alcohol. It could even be more serious than that.

Over the years I’ve found so much information I didn’t know what to do with it. I mainly shared it through my original blog or kept it private hoping to share it when I found the right approach. For many of these articles I’ve now been waiting years which just isn’t helping anyone.

I recently realised my blogs are the perfect medium on which to share because I’m most interested in the discussions and debate around this topic. I don’t feel I have the answers, I share because I’m interested in learning and using what I learn to help me on my journey through life.

I have now started to organise all I have found and it’s re invigorating my dreams because the message really is about living your life. The act of living itself is what we must do. Moving is living. Activity to me isn’t just physical it is mental and emotional. Thinking about things makes your brain active, experiencing emotions involves both your brain and your body.

For now most information will be about physical activity because that is what is most available. Though I am looking for and finding interesting articles in all three areas. Over time this and all the other posts will grow as I continue this life journey.


For now I’m creating a series of articles covering the various topics related to activity and health. So far I have published:

Key articles

Activity is so useful throughout life that I’ve also compiled a list of the main articles worth reading to build your general knowledge.

Useful Reading

Here is more useful information

Finding a good online physiotherapist

On quest I have had over the years is to find online physiotherapy centres. You would think that there is someone who is doing for physiotherapy what essential tennis and other sites do for tennis. You email photos and videos. and get analysis either from experts or a community.

Seems like a no brainer in this day and age doesn’t it. Well that hasn’t been my experience. So I thought I should share the problem and see if anyone can solve it for me.

What I am looking for is a site

  • with high quality information on a wide range of sporting injuries and treatments. 
  • Preferably with video instruction as well
  • a facility to ask specific questions for a small fee and upload details like photos and videos for analysis
  • designed to improve my knowledge of my own body. Not hiding the details but slowly building my understanding of myself.
  • helping me fit the way I live with the way I move

It’s a specific set of requirements and nothing has really fit the bill so far. So if you have a recommendation then please post a comment.

Research so far

I had a quick search a while back and found these results but haven’t had the time to follow them up. I share mainly to show market as I saw it. I would like to know if anyone has experience with any of these sites and companies and what they thought of them. With the tennis sites I’ve had very good experiences over time because they made it easy to gain this experience without much expense or effort from me. I don’t see this approach in online physio world. You must pay first before you find out. That puts me off. 
The details I’ve recorded vary according to what I found on the site. I was searching for advice about my ankle injury. I can see I learnt something from these sites. Hopefully they do what I ask it just wasn’t obvious. If this helps you and you can enlighten me further thats great.

Physios-online: ankle sprain

  • £100 initial consultation. 
  • Then an app. 
  • An Australian company.


  • A large proportion of injuries do not need hands-on physio treatment. 
  • £28, 
  • clunky web site. 
  • UK based. 
  • Not sure if there’s an app. 

Ankle exercises

For the inclusive package of £28, you receive a personalised injury self management programme comprising exercises and expert advice from your chosen physio.

Included in this price is a follow up assessment, which you can choose to take at any time within 3 months folllowing the initial assessment.

Physio Directory:

  • Searchable List of practitioners.

Physio Bob

  • Physio forum. Topics include; patient Q&A,
  • Useful place for research and questions.

Physio Adviser

aska physio

Make christmas work for you!!!

So the festival is upon us. How much fun we will have. What I like to do is make the fun work for me, making me healthier not heavier. It took a long time to learn but now it has just become part of the normal day.

I’m no expert I just do it for fun. I’ve learnt most things for other people. It’s always amazing how many fun ideas you can learn. So I just thought I would pay it forward, share some simple tips, see if they help anyone.

Quality over quantity

Since there is so much food around I often start getting picky. Most of the year I’m a gannet. That’s still true at christmas but I get a lot more tactical. I could just eat a lot. That’s easy to do but I have learnt that when I eat a lot then I don’t really appreciate the actual food as it goes down. I don’t really enjoy the process.

If I am going to get fatter that’s fine I know plenty about losing it later on but I’d rather enjoy the process. Be able to look at each extra inch and remember the fun it represents. My answer is to make each mouthful special. Sometimes by choosing the most expensive or indulgent food but most often its about keeping things interesting and responding to the spur of the moment and embracing variety.

This is the theme running through these tips. Being healthy should be fun. This is how I make it so.


This time of year there are so many different types of food around I play with combining them it is much more fun to eat the same food in different ways. A simple example is mince pies. I love them but having three in a row is enough. I lose the taste for them. But if I vary what I have with them then each time its a different taste and exciting and interesting again. So I have one pie with cream, the other creme fraiche, the next yoghurt, then custard. I might add herbs and spices as well like mint or cinnamon and finally I might even pair it simply with a little fruit like a satsuma or apple.

It totally depends how I feel but each time I can match the food with my mood.  Making a simple pie into something wholly indulgent or light and satisfying or whatever I really feel like. Finding food combinations is easy. I just experiment, google and try all sorts of ideas from the cooking books and sites out there. It’s work but it’s fun too once you get the hang of it.

There are lots of ideas out there. for a little inspiration here are some recipes to give you ideas. don’t get hung up on the whole recipe, the concept what makes it fun is what is important


I wasn’t raised to combine fruit with meat. The one exception was apple sauce for lamb but I’ve noticed more and more cultures happily mix the two. This is a great option because you can mix the indulgence of the meat with the fruit making the whole essentially lighter and better for you. At the same time the flavour combinations can be quite simply divine. So you can focus on taste and quality while reducing your calories so it’s a win win situation. 
Obvious combinations are pork and either orange or apple along with duck and orange but as I investigated I found a lot more combinations are used. I’ve seen banana, obviously pineapple works with ham or cheese, in fact cheese is perfect with fruit, I mentioned mince pies before and I find it cuts through lots of indulgent desserts. There is also fish. Lemon and orange can work with various seafood. 
The point being that these are natural culinary combinations which really bring out the flavours of food. The fruit juices are great on their own with food or as part of sauces like gravies, custards or creams. Once I got thinking of this I started having loads of fun.


Rather than eat all the time I start to pace myself. I might skip breakfast or lunch. Not something I normally do christmas is the peak of the food year. So now it makes the most sense. Since I often eat double in one meal I then miss the next to balance it out. It’s always a personal decision. I just find that I feel much less bloated. I’m ready for each meal instead of full before I even start. 
I judge when to skip a meal often when I start to feel the fat running through my veins. Everything starts to feel slow.It’s been a while so I forget the exact feeling but I can tell my body has fed so well that it doesn’t need any food for a while. 
There you have it. I haven’t shared everything. There hasn’t been time. Like I say I’ve learnt it all from others who were having fun. I hope it helps you get even more out of christmas too. 

Problems of inflammation

Inflammation is quickly becoming linked with just about every major disease and for good reason because it is the bodies natural response to injury and disease making the inflammation mechanism the bodies rapid response unit.

Inflammation is the bodies equivalent of the army, police, health and fire services rolled into one.

Once you realise that the bodies most natural response to infection is to either engulf the invader and destroy it or attach to it to warn others of the danger until help arrives you start to see the correlation with our emergency services. Similar is true of injuries, the specialist rebuilding cells within the body are attracted to the injury site and in conjunction with the blood itself and the lymph system start blocking off areas, shutting down leaking systems, taking away the waste and creating scaffolding so that rebuilding work can begin. This is also the kind of process the emergency services start and rebuilding services continue. To everyone else though it looks like a mess until everything is cleaned up and life can get back to normal.

The similarities do not end there, instead they go right through the process of recovery. The point though is that inflammation is not something to be avoided per se. As in, it’s not the problem, rather you always need to understand what causes the inflammation in the first place.

So far our medical response has been to dull pain and reduce inflammation. That’s fine but that’s the equivalent of fin turning off your fire alarm and opening the windows to let in some fresh air when there is a fire slowly smouldering in your house. Putting the fire out is the proper answer.

So now is the time I start to put the list together of what happens when inflammation isn’t controlled. This list is likely to get very long. When it does I can start to organise it into sub posts. For now it becomes somewhere I use to organise the topic because inflammation, the causes of and its resolution is rapidly becoming the biggest prize and challenge.

If you’ve been following me you will know that I believe I will eventually show you how being more active is one of the simplest and best ways to prevent inflammation. Building this list will help me do just that. For now. Let’s just see where this leads us. Maybe it’s not activity. Doesn’t matter, where the evidence leads is most important.

Osteoarthritis a Result of Inflammation as Well as Wear and Tea preventing osteoarthritis among other wear and tear issues is why I prefer to learn from my injuries to fix them and prevent future recurrence

Medical Xpress: How “good cholesterol” stops inflammation //  thanks @everydaymornin via
The depression-inflammation connection is a growing consideration in health. Emphasising the impact our immune response can have on health and disease.

Inflammation from uncontrolled sugar levels leads to the damage in diabetes and heart disease

Inflammation could be controlled via the vagus nerve Vagal Tone refers to the ability to control your vagus nerve which in turn seems to control your ability to relax. The stronger your vagal tone the better you are at relaxing. This is a potential goldmine of information for simple fixes to problems of inflammation

How Much Glucose Does Your Brain Really Need?

I understand that our brains can only obtain energy from sugar. The can’t get it from protein and fat like the rest of our body. So when I found an article considering How much glucose does your brain actually need? I knew I needed to make a record for future reference.

This is something I learnt through bio psychology and my PE A Level. Over time I have developed a theory that I feel can explain both why migraines occur and from this who you can do to help prevent them. The concept is relatively simple but, to understand it fully, it helps to know more about how your body and brain work then your average person. The idea is that peak performance, or the physiology of maximum intensity exercise as it was termed at university, has a lot to do with your bodies ability to manage its resources, particularly water and sugar. Essentially the most improvement in athletic achievement comes from sparing sugar and using water well. If the brain can only use sugar and being fit ensures your body is efficient with sugar making it last longer then being unfit will do the reverse leading to insulin resistance and basically letting you run out of sugar. That would tire your brain and potentially hurt it leading to pain. Just like any other part of the body.

In reality it is more complex than this but hopefully the essence makes sense. If you really do consider your brain like a muscle then training it like one will help prevent injuries. If you consider headaches as an injury and migraines as a severe injury then you could formulate a plan to reduce the pain causing dynamic that leads to them. It’s just a theory but since there is no cure for migraine and it is excruciating and debilitating I feel that anything with a hope of working is worth trying.

The detail I will add later. If you want to know more please add a comment. For now I’m just stating my intentions. There is a lot more detail and research I have found that I can add and flesh out the idea.

So I share this article now as a background providing a general understanding of the brain with the potential to understand how this could lead to a migraine.

What factors make us kick the bucket?

I hear so much about what risk factors there are to make us die sooner and all the things we should do or not do but because I like to research both sides of the story I always find things that contradict each other.

I’m coming round to the view that the overall risk really depends on where we are in our lives at any particular time. I don’t know if I can put this concept across well enough but I’ll try. (more…)

New evidence that exercise produces cancer fighting chemicals

I found this a while ago and just came across it again. A study has found evidence that exercise can produce chemicals which suppress cancer. We all kind of know it can help but it’s really powerful to find evidence showing real protective benefits. Of course more research is required but this is extremely promising.

Learn more about Fitness v Cancer

Thanks the original Conditioning Research article I discovered this in.