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.
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