[See Part 1 of this blog and the discussion of antioxidants here!]

You may also ask: Doesn’t my antioxidant system continue to get rid of the ONOOs even when I’m being a couch potato? The answer is yes, but not enough. Exercise upregulates the body’s antioxidant defense system. Regular exercise protects the DNA and increases levels of a detoxifying enzyme which is believed to lower the occurrence of cancer. Regular exercise is needed to train your antioxidant defenses to beef up, to keep working at a level that sweeps up more of the bad oxidants trying to tear down your body at the cellular level even when you are at rest.

Why is a whole body exercise regime like Yoga Tune Up® better than non-whole body exercise like jogging and weight lifting? Because the benefits of upregulating the antioxidant defense system appear to be localized to the areas in which the muscles are actually working – i.e., contracting and stretching, contracting and stretching. (You need to have the stretch in order to get the muscles to the optimum length for optimal contraction and antioxidant production.) If most of the muscle work is being done by your hip flexors during a 5K run, how do your shoulders, arms, hamstrings and neck get more anti-oxidants? If these other areas of your body don’t also get some love, they may age a lot faster than your thighs.

In fact, if you are someone who spends most of your exercise hours running, biking or weight training, start returning the muscles in your legs to their optimal length with yummy Leg Stretch #3 (included below and on the 10 Minute Quick Fix for the Lower Back).

What if I just exercise once a month, but for 3 hours at something really hard like dragging a 2-ton rock across a field? ONOO! When rats and humans who are normally sedentary engage in acute bouts of exercise, their bodies’ levels of bad oxidants shoot up way beyond their antioxidant systems’ abilities to protect – because their bodies haven’t had the chance to upregulate their antioxidant systems with regular exercise. The body adapts over time, not overnight. Also, this gets worse with age. Left on its own, without regular exercise, the body increases it production of and accumulates oxidants. In addition, oxidative damage to DNA generally increases with age. Regular exercise triggers mechanisms in the body which allow it to repair its own DNA and expunge damaged proteins which could alter DNA.

In the words of Ji, Radak and Goto:

“. . . when RONS production far exceeds the ability of the cell to adapt through hormesis, crisis could occur leading to apoptosis or even cell death.”

“Death may be considered a final failure of the organism to maintain oxidant-antioxidant homeostasis throughout the life span.”

“Exercise can cause wide-spread changes from organelle to the entire body . . . . Thus, we propose that exercise has a hormetic effect wherein chronic lowdose exposure can result in increased tolerance to a higher level of stress, no matter the stress is physical, mental, pathological, or environmental.”

“Hormesis and Exercise: How the Cell Copes with Oxidative Stress,” American Journal of Pharmacology and Toxicology 3(1): 41-55, 2008.

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Alexa Kim

I teach because I love thinking about the complex and simple ways of the human body. The body's needs for optimal health are incredibly simple; how the body compensates for damaging habits is extraordinarily complex. I love assisting students distill functional movement to its most simple - so that students can restore, strengthen and protect their own bodies in any situation. I am certified to teach Yoga Tune Up ™ and am also a certified Restorative Exercise ™ Specialist and Healthy Foot Practitioner.

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Nicola Francis

This is a great reminder that our bodies hold innate knowing that we need to remain aware of. This means small steps forward with building regimes for people that have been sedentary for most of their recent lives and also an extension of compassion and belief in ourselves and our magnificent bodies! Thanks Alexa!

Katelynn Corman

Very informative article. It makes me want to jump up and get my whole body moving and grooving. I liked how you mentioned “we need to get the stretch to optimal length for optimal contraction and antioxidant production”. It makes a lot of sense that we need to be moving all the parts of our body, and not just the running or cycling muscles. I never thought that those body parts would age faster (the ones were not moving)…funny to think about, but makes sense.

Jessie Dwiggins

The body is an amazing laboratory! For those who are not used to regular exercise, YTU seems like such a digestible format that has protective effects on the cellular level without being too mentally of physically stimulating. Coupled with the corrective exercise, what a great way to begin a regular movement program. And for those who workout regularly, what a great way to down regulate the system for recovery.

martina sturm

sometimes i find too much exercise actually makes me feel wors. To add to your article , the reason is, that it will start an oxidative process, increase levels of acidity, inflammation and increase cortisol levels. The key is always balance and a moderate amount of varied exercise is the key to facilitating anti-oxidatiive process.


I agree with the comment that the body adapts “over time, not overnight”. Things such as the Plantarflexion of the foot might not come easily in various yoga poses, such as Mountain Pose. (All three corners of the foot should be down for proper alignment). However, these positions become easier with practice over time.

Victoria Ryder-Burbidge

I found this quite fascinating. What is amazing is that what we know anecdotally is being proven by science. I know that I feel better when I move. I feel better when I move often and in a variety of ways. That doesn’t mean the movement is easy or that there aren’t times when I’d rather sit on the couch. Having the science will just be the added incentive to keep me moving despite all the temptations not to!


I have been taking an average of 3 yoga classes/wk and I usually teach about 5 classes per week and I feel great. Wonderful article, well written and soooo interesting,.Yoga is so good for everyone, This gives me more ‘ammunition’ when speaking to new people. I am always surprised at the fact that a one or two week absence makes me yearn for a class and how great I feel after.
Thanks again for both parts of this article.


Hahaha, the thought of a Thanksgiving Turkey popped up while reading this part of your blog. You cannot cook a frozen turkey in half the time if you double the temperature, it’ll just end up burned – like your body!! In the society of instant gratification, it is hard to slow down, be present and work with what we have now. But if we don’t start now, the process will take even longer!!

Jordan Kersten

This was a wonderful explanation of the effect exercise (particularly full body exercise) has on anti-oxidant production, and why. Thank you so much for this wonderful article!

will cristobal

thx for sharing alexa. i was quickly drawn to your 1st blog (yoga tune up helps you get younger?) only to find i had to read a 2nd blog and i am not big on cliffhangers. :o) thank goodness i did coz it was fine reading! i agree that the body adapts over time not overnight and i am glad, from reading your short bio, that you leaped into teaching because YTU was too good not to share. thank you for the inspiration.


No wonder Yoga teachers look so good and age very well!!! Seriously, great article and thanks for making it easy to understand and relate to!!! It just shows how exercise and specifically why yoga is so good for you inside as well as out. I recall when I first started yoga, was surprised how much effort it took. Prior, I only ran, biked or lifted weights and then when I would do yoga, I couldn’t believe how weak I was in so many areas! I agree utilizing the body and having it work together offers a whole new set of… Read more »

Helen McAvoy

I have been teaching dance fitness for 22 years, this article really is key to understanding the balance of exercise and stretching and mobility. There are muscles we all overuse and we need to really pay attention to make sure we balance what ever we do with stretching and letting our muscles have there down time. I have recently started taking Yoga Tuneup classes and I am feeling the difference in so many positive ways. I am so hooked! I am going to pursue getting certified, it is an amazing program!

Melissa Tilley

Great approach with why physical activity benefits the body. I gave you a virtual high five for “the body doesn’t adapt overnight” so true!! Although I am sure most of us wish it did. We do need to move daily all over our body. Just like our four legged pet’s who stretch as soon as they wake up from a puppy or cat nap. Yoga tune up is an excellent way to get the body moving as well as help individuals get into their bodies and build awareness within. or “Embody their map” 🙂 With such a strong emphasis on… Read more »

alysa farrell

Thanks for your research and a simple understandable way to explain how our bodies benifi…or Not fron excercise. It really helps to be able to help people understand & shift their inner mentality of, “I Should excercise” to invite a stronger positive understanding of consistency is key. with wiser choices an hour of time spent on consideration of the entire body has a huge pay-off for over all health.

Allison McCready

Great follow-up to part 1! My favorite take away: The body adapts over time, not overnight. It made me think of the multitudes of people these days that decide to run a marathon out of the blue. They’ve never run before, but they join a training group and just start pounding away. ONOO!!

Alex Ellis

Love refreshing the science behind why we must exercise, but in a balanced way. In addition to the physical practice, I am sure that there will be less stressing ONOOs with a less processed diet? This two part article makes me want to get off the computer, stop over working my internal shoulder rotators and do some Yoga Tune UP! (haha =))

silvia marisol

I have a tremendous appreciation for regular consistent exercise, especially due to a recent experience I just had where my level of regular stretcing and yoga practice dwindled due to an active summer with lots of “sittting” INACTIVITY! Especially with age as you mention! I’m nearing 60 years of age and I realize I totally need to keep my exercise pumped-up at all times; “no matter what” distracrtions tempt us to slack off! Keeping our total back/spine muscles, the abdominals, i.e. CORE; plus the, ALL IMPORTANT, “PSOAS” flexible and simultaneously strong through regular exercise, and specifically, YTU movements, help us… Read more »

Gloria Tan

Thanks for the very informative anti aging article about how to maximize antioxidants :). … and your saying the whole body Yoga tune up class is better than running, weight lifting or any other form of non whole body exercise? You have just reconfirmed my desire to want to learn more from Jill.. I’m looking forward to my life time journey of being a student of this practice… and being a student of my body…

Joanna Bond

I don’t know, it all sounds like an excellent argument for moderation and variation to me. Meaning, we need our whole body yoga classes, especially if they’re different each time (ie not the same sequence day in day out) but of course we need cardio, strength training, and relaxation exercises as well. Not to mention good nutrition, heart health, happy endorphins, fresh air, limber muscles and strong muscles, stimulated minds, and sufficient rest. AND maybe most important, the awareness to sense in our bodies when we are doing too much after too little. We need to let go of the… Read more »

Patricia Antoni

Thank you for the article. Another reason why we all need yoga. I did not know about the antioxidant system. I thought just taking antioxidants was enough. I appreciate the information you have given.


So interesting,.. my question is, is a full-body practice like yoga enough physical activity on its own, without the addition of something like running or biking?

brooke thomas

A-ha! Finally an answer as to why, when I foolishly jumped in to Crossfit after what was the least fit, most sedentary stage of my life, I was getting strangely more fit yet less healthy. I finally decided that my body couldn’t handle the stress load I had sprung on it, literally over night, and began a more sane conditioning program. Now, 2 years and a lot of YTU later, I might be ready to dip my toes back into some Crossfit craziness. Maybe…


I used to run/do the elliptical as my only form of exercise because I thought Cardio was the most important thing for me. It’s amazing how my body changed in look and feel once I started doing yoga (whole body exercise). What also supprised me was how quickly the benefits of this type of work became apparent (about one week). Change doesn’t happen overnight but when the body finds something it likes it makes sure to tell you in a timely fashion.


Thank you for this very intersting and comprehensive article. Honestly, I didn’t know that a full-body workout on a regular basis is much more beneficial than exercising only one part of the body. I thought “exercise is exercise”. However, I prefer doing exercises that work the whole body, like yoga, barre class, ballet, anyway to non-whole body exercise like running and weight lifting.

Alexa Silvaggio

How amazing, I love the info on the antioxidant levels differing in people who exercise and in people who don’t. It also intrigues me that people who are mostly sedentary yet will have random outbursts of exercise have a harder time getting there antioxidant levels regulated because the body doesn’t have time to catch up to itself. I am currently doing my Yoga Tune Up training, and very wisely my teacher Sarah said ” Move all parts of the body, at all different speeds, in every direction” Ahhhhh!

Lisa Larivière

You know free radicals will always be around for sure, and learning to relax at the end of your sports, so breathing also plays a major part, I loved the yoga breaths (pranayaams) to bring in more oxygen into my system…


Great article from a great yoga teacher. I started taking classes from Alexa because although I’ve previously taken yoga classes, I had never taken a Yoga Tune Up class and I was curious. What I like about Alexa’s tune-up classes, which sets them apart from the other classes I’ve taken, is that yoga tune-up really focuses on healing the stresses that we accumulate throughout the day by sitting at our desks, wearing heels, jogging, etc.

Jed White

I’m a 15-year runner that had never done yoga (or even stretched before my runs!) when I first started taking Alexa Kim’s yoga tune-up class to heal my plantar fasciitis. My feet quickly healed, but more importantly my running has significantly improved, largely due to the greater flexibility and enhanced self-awareness and breathing techniques learned in Alexa’s classes.

Diana Chung

Thank you, Alexa for writing tihs piece. I am a runner…I LOVE running, so much so that I’ve sacrificed other exercises I used to do (like yoga) just so that I can run every day (I cannot be at the gym for 2 hours!) and did it thinking that as long as I exercised daily, it wouldn’t matter much what exercise I was engaged in. But after reading your piece, I realize I have to get back to exercising other parts of my body not just my legs, heart and lungs, so now I will incorporate yoga at least a… Read more »

Kristin Marvin

It’s interesting how there are still so many people who believe in the old school of thought on exercise and stress relief. Exercise can be extraordinarily stressful on the body and increase oxidative stress. It’s unbelievable the amount of oxidative stress prevalent in humans today due to so many reasons and it is a cause of an incredible amount of diseases. I 100% agree how important exercise routines incorporating yoga tune-up is essential to maintain health and wellbeing. And for all the athletes out there, yoga tune-up will vastly improve your performance!

Cathy Favelle

Great info on a question that some of my students have been asking me about….here it is in a nutshell….whole body workouts rock….like the amazing yoga tune-up to stretch and contract ALL your muscles to generate tons of natural antioxidants in the body and don’t go for the all or nothing approach…adapt a consistant and moderate exercise program to protect and maintain your body for a lifetime! Thanks for making all this research so simple to understand and implement!

Patricia M. in

Dear Alex,
Thank you for your sensible and wise advice, everything you explain and share with others about antioxidants and the system makes sense. I am sure you are a fantastic teacher and I only wish I was living in LA to take your classes; however, despite the distance – I am in Fl – you have inspired me to go back to practicing yoga, even if it is 1x per week…so thank you.
Please keep on writing!