I have a guilty secret. I am the consumer for whom the Matrix will be made. If I were a brain plugged directly into a net with access to all the books, games, movies and TV shows ever made, I’d probably be perfectly content.
But I’m not just a brain or a node on a computer network. I’ve got a body and all its accoutrements (best said with a French accent). Having a body means I get messages from it and the world around me ALL THE TIME. If I ignore some messages, like “you’ve been sitting way too long” or “your toes lost all feeling about an hour ago because you put them in preposterous shoes” or “this 4th cup of coffee is not delicious and is making you dizzy,” then my body talks to me louder. By loud, I mean messages of pain.
My body was and is made for motion. Computers, Hulu and smartphones have been around about a nano-second relative to how long the human body has been in existence. If my hunter-gatherer agrarian ancestors wanted to eat, drink, eliminate waste and make merry, they had to move. Until relatively recently, they had no telephone or internet by which a pizza and cheesy breadsticks could be ordered. There was no online catalogue of potential mates to choose from. Which was ok, because they had bodies which evolution had honed into perfect locomotive machines. It’s pretty much the same body I’ve inherited.
The human body is such a marvel in the myriad ways it does what it does, to allow us to do what we do. I think that if people knew more about it, we would all take much better care of ourselves. For instance, physical work by the body results in oxidants being created by the cells, specifically, reactive oxygen and nitrogen (aka “RONS”). Oxidants, in case you haven’t read all the ads for expensive anti-oxidant supplements, can harm the whole body starting at the cellular level. Oxidants running rampant in your body cause your cells, organs, skeleton, brain – YOU – to age faster. Oxidants causes wrinkles, got it?
But wait! The body is sooo brilliant, it creates its own cure! How, you may ask? I’ll tell you how! By making its own ANTIOXIDANTS! (But really the story is too complicated to tell it all here, so I’m going to relate a few of the fascinating findings described in a paper by Ji, Radak and Goto that was published in the American Journal of Pharmacology and Toxicology in 2008.)
For instance: the body engages in hormesis. Hormesis is a term for how the body may use low doses of toxins to increase the body’s tolerance for larger doses of those toxins. When we engage in any sort of aerobic exercise that works muscles, we create oxidative stress in our bodies. We create oxidative stress in our bodies by merely sitting and breathing. (The major mover of breath is the dome-like muscle called the diaphragm.)
But the body, because it really loves us and wants us to survive and keep feeding it, combats the bad oxidants by creating antioxidants. Increased blood flow from exercise causes the generation of nitric oxide (NO) which, at low concentrations, is an antioxidant. However, at high concentrations, perhaps due to an irregular and high-intensity exercise session after months/years/a lifetime of no exercise, NO can react with superoxide to generate highly reactive and (bad) cytotoxic peroxynitrate (ONOO). I did not make that acronym up. High levels of NO create ONOO! Get it?
Moving on. This should NEVER be used as an argument for being a couch potato. Because aerobic exercise does not appear to harm vascular function “because of the high scavenging capacity of the antioxidant system.” (Ji, et al., referencing study published by Goto, Higashi, Kimura, Noma, Hara, et al., in Circulation in 2003, 108:530-535.) Also, regular exercise is absolutely beneficial in preventing diseases and improving both physiological and psychological functions in ways researchers are just beginning to understand.
Come back for part 2 of this article on Friday (and the answer to how YTU will make you younger!).
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ONOO… I’m so pumped to read on! Thank you for the easy-to-read overview of RONS, NO, ONOO. I agree that if we all knew a little more detail of how the body functions, we would care for ourselves accordingly…I’m already considering the ways to incorporate the generation of more antiox creation – onto part 2!
Movement is key, nothing stagnant or stationary is good. Think about the things in nature that stay still in example pond water without movement creates algae (growth) and continues on in size. If there was movement it would break up the stagnant waters allowing it to create and continue a flow not allowing things to stick and breed.
It’s really true that a body in motion stays in motion. A sedentary life will be the early death of us. Thank you for explaining the physical, and detrimental, effects of non-motion. I’m looking for part 2 now to get the secrets of how YTU will make me younger!
I volunteer in the physio department of a hospital / long term care facility. I assist the physiotherapist during the daily exercise class and I also assist in walking the residents. In the year I have been there , I can see the huge effect activity can play on longevity and quality of life. Daily activity is essential to well being !
There is no question that Yoga Tune Up is a way to stay young. I don’t even have to wait for part II because my body is jumping up and down saying, “Yes! It is true.” Loving movement is crucial, even when that self-sabotaging part of your brain is telling you to “stay plugged in.” I always have a hard time putting down my phone at night and I have to give that part of my brain a lecture and commence my deep breathing as a necessary substitute. Once I make the shift I’m glad that I did.
I’m so glad you came out and said you’d be happier “plugged in.” There are times I feel the same way. The science behind free radicals and antioxidants is so fascinating. I love knowing the body will do its best to defend itself but it could use a little help periodically. Glad YTU is a way to stay young!
I enjoyed reading this article, it was full of funny, ONOO! I love the science behind the body but it is still a language I getting used to. My theory on aging was that the fountain of youth is moving like you did as a youth. One thing kids have over adults is the love for spending time on the floor. I love YTU for all the time I spend down on the ground, exciting my nervous system with all sorts of stimulating feedback.
Thanks Alexia, this is a great post which I will certainly remember, cause I want to stay young.. thanbks
Who needs fancy anti-aging remedies when all you really have to do is continue to move and take care of your body. It’s that simple. You already have the fountain of youth!
I love reading blogs that keep me entertained as well as informed. The idea of making the body younger is indeed attractive and this blog was interesting so I will keep reading. Thank you.
Interesting observation about the adverse effects of unaccustomed high energy exercise–I’m relatively active but a recent several days of higher than usual physical exertion has taken a toll, probably related to the ONO thing. Sigh…back to the wisdom of moderation, surely intended to help the body stay the course.
A very interesting and entertaining blog!! Keep it moving! Heal thy self! That is the key to avoiding the “ONOO”s for sure, I am a firm believer that the body talks and sends out signals – we just need to listen. When that stiffness and soreness sets in we need to remember the answer lies within and we can move to say no to the ONOO!
ONOO shows up in the blood and tissues, so measuring this on an immediate basis (e.g., after a workout) is probably not feasible unless you are a subject in a research study. However, frequent and excessive production of ONOO may show up as tissue degeneration and/or a muscle taking longer to recover after a workout – but these are effects of cumulative causes. We are the sum of our habits. Thanks for the great question!
Alexa, very interesting the data that your give us. That is a fact that the human body is wonderful, everything to adapt and survive. I have a question, do you know how could we measure if we’re producing ONOO?
I am daily fascinated by the wonders and the power of the body and it’s ability to fix itself if we get back to what we are designed to do and get out of the way, so to speak. Moving regularly & intelligently, eating mindfully, it just makes sense. The acronyms of NO and ONOO are so easily understood and memorable – thank you for introducing them to many of us and including them into your blog. It’s enough to keep me motivated & moving! You are an entertaining writer – I can’t wait to read more.
Where can I find part 2? What an eloquent way to explain the natural antioxidants that form within us from movement & exercise– am now searching for part 2 for the answer on how YTU can make you younger! 🙂
The body will definitely communicate what it likes and doesn’t like, that’s for sure. Great article. Reminds me to listen. It’s been talkin’
Let me first thank you for providing the link to merican Journal of Pharmacology and Toxicology in 2008. I will absolutely indulge myself in the subject. Reading your article makes me realized the vast body of information on health and nutrition that is waiting my eye gaze.
On that note, I’m looking forward to reading Part 2.
I am definitely made for movement as well! And I won’t cry if I stay young forever! It is such a huge commitment in this world of quick fixes and technology sometimes, but so worthwhile. We forget that our bodies weren’t made for this. Thank you!
Since beginning my foray into Yoga Tune Up, I have been doing a lot more little exercises at various times during the day–rotation of the neck, rolling and flossing of shoulders, tubular core. Even small doses of exercise that lubricates my joints and combats fascia build up has made a big difference. I feel younger already! Which just goes to show that a little YTU can go a long way–and a lot of YTU can work wonders. Thanks for the article Alexa.
The body really is a well oiled machine as my seventh grade science teacher used to say. But it is really incredible what it is capable of and what it can accomplish. From what I learned in yoga tune up, it is hard to think that we weren’t all created by mad scientists because literally every inch of us has a purpose. It is also incredible what a few hours, or even minutes of time spent being mindful and taking care of the body can do- either doing a sun salutation or drinking a green juice, even sitting in the… Read more »
The effects of exercise or movement are so amazing! Talk about context…you can roll around on Yoga Tune Up Therapy Balls for a fraction of the cost of expensive eye cream and your own body will work for you!! Can’t wait to read the next part!
What a compelling post detailing (very scientifically) the anti-aging benefits of whole body exercise! How amazing that as we stretch our muscles, we can not only bring them to their optimum length which in turn sets them up for optimal contraction, but that the body can create its own antioxidants through this physical activity as well! Being that Yoga Tune Up is most definitely a whole body exercise practice, it can certainly help us upregulate our antioxidant defense systems and help us stay looking and feeling young all over! Thanks for the awesome post!
Never heard if this before. I knew physical activity (or exercise) results in a production of free radicals that cause oxaditive stress. Always thought the cure for this was to eat food rich in antioxidants. The fact that the body itself can counteract the negative effects of doing something that is good for you (exercising) but also in a way damages the cells is fabulous. That means there are no excuses, like you point out in this blog post. Cool!
You just have to hand it to our amazingly brilliant, self sustaining, fantastically fascinating, super smart bodies for not only being able to produce their own “healing/medicine” but for having a sense of humor as well-NO and ONOO…hilarious!! Alexa should do an infomercial advertising the latest and greatest, super potent, scientifically verified anti-oxidant called… Are you ready?…it’s your own body and it’s incomparable inner workings. I believe an earlier response to Alexa’s article called it ” charming” and I totally agree. Fun stuff!
Isn’t it amazing how the body is this crazy wonderful machine that can fix itself if you just give it half a chance by moving regularly & intelligently and eating mindfully? But, this article and another article I just read recently are good reminders that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. The other article I read discussed the findings of recent studies of alzheimer’s disease and how over exercise has been linked to an increased likelihood of alzheimer’s. wow! what? really? But when I read more of that article and now your blog post… Read more »
Sign me up for staying young, or at least look like I’m staying young. What I love so far about the YTU exercises is the deep, intense work I’m doing for my body is not going against my body in any way. It’s very active and passive at the same time. I feel as though I’m cleansing the toxins by creating heat and opening up layers and layers of muscles and tissues that perhaps in the past I thought could only happen through running, or vinyasa yoga. The stress that we put on the body most hours of every day… Read more »
Isn’t the body an amazing machine! I love to exercise at high intensity, it’s such a release of pent up stress and provides an immediate sense of gratification! However, not often do I think about the multitude of stress responses the body must accommodate as we press on. . This article reminds us to be mindful of such intensity and to realize that while the body can respond and restore, we should do everthing within our ability to support and sustain it natural state.
It’s all about moderation and balance, time too speed up and time to slow down. A combination of cardio and strength. If I go too long without one or the other, my body tells me and I start craving it. I’m always amazed at how truly complex our bodies are!!
who wouldn’t be drawn to a title like that? …. and I equate the small a bouts of nitric acids when under stress to a homeopathic type system that the body uses to build up in response to that manageable dose. A moderate amount of anything seems to be manageable and the body can actually adapt and thrive – however too much of anything can lead to overdose and degeneration. I concur with Brook’s response to the wort sport for the body… sitting for hours regularly – hunched over / flexed and not BREATHING!
My body is craving more vigorous movement and blood flow to help my body run smooth and clean. I feel that it is important to exercise both the slow and fast twitch muscle fibers through yoga and any aerobic activity. I find it incredible intriguing now that at the studio I teach at we have lots of yoga and Hot Pilates (basically a HIIT) on the menu. It makes sense now how they both compliment each other in creating similar results yet are different activities altogether. Moderation and variety keep a regimen interesting and dynamic and the body will love… Read more »
I am in the YTU training program right now as part of my yoga teacher training. This post is pretty interesting as it pertains to HIE. As a life long athlete in high intensity sports up until I graduated college, I can definitely appreciate the way a regular yoga practice makes my body feel vs. daily jump/sprint training and intense weight lifting. I don’t feel burnt out after a yoga workout – in fact I feel more energized than before, which I can’t say was true for my very high intensity college athletic training.Not only that, but I feel much… Read more »
It’s funny. We know I’d we don’t charge our cell phones the battery will die. If we don’t put gas in the tank our car won’t run. If we don’t pay our bills our credit goes bad. But, how many people know that exercise can lengthen their lives and help them lead a healthier one? Even worse, how many people know all of these things and refuse to exercise? But, hey, at least they have the latest and greatest fully charged iPhone. 😉 Thank you for this very informative post, Alexa!
ONOO! Brilliant. Thanks for bringing up the problem we have of living in hunter gatherer bodies in smart phone worlds. My work life is filled with people with chronic pain (I’m a Rolfing practitioner) and they’re always asking me why XYZ is giving them pain. They have to ask me, because the issue is so rarely something obvious and concrete like “Well my right hip hurts because I broke my pelvis in that car accident.”, and so much more frequently the slow demise of tissue fluidity from chronic inactivity. To be sure, people have pain from accidents or overuse, as… Read more »
Up until a year ago, my exercise sessions had been highly irregular. I wonder how much damage has been done. You made this information fun to read. Our body is truly amazing. Can’t wait to read more…
My roommate has been pretty sedentary since September but has a naturally slim frame so doing day to day activities one wouldn’t consider him “out of shape.” He recently decided he wanted to go for a run with me, keep in mind I run on a regular basis so I wasn’t holding back for him. He ended up getting really sick immediately after and experienced digestive problems for a few days after too. I can’t wait to show him this post, very interesting.
Hi Alexa S! Consistent exercise is a great thing. Just be mindful of how you feel, both in body and mind, after your exercise sessions. Before I say anything about the research regarding high intensity exercise (“HIE”), I have to emphasize that everyone is different – at least a little, depending on the topic. (And I’m assuming that HIE is defined by a calculation based on a person’s individual peak performance metrics.) However, there are pretty respectable studies which indicate that HIE may be linked to adverse health effects. The British Medical Journal offers one paper here: http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/42/1/11.full – entitled:… Read more »
I can’t believe how serendipitous those acronyms are. I am a consistent exerciser, mostly high intensity, and I have to wonder even though it’s consistent am I still creating too much OONO!?
What a brilliant and charming way to tell us that exercise makes us younger. I can’t wait to read part two. I really liked the no and onoo part of the blog. Thank goodness our body loves us and wants to achieve homeostasis. It really does want to heal itself. Sometimes we just have to relax and really listen to the messages that we receive.
Moderation and listening to your body is key! Sadly, I often find that when I get too busy I ignore the messages until I already have the caffine jitters or the achey hip and tight shoulders from sitting at the computer too long! But if you listen, the body is indeed brilliant. and the creation of natural antioxidants from the increased blood flow of moderate exercise is yet another example. The body was designed for motion….You have more to worry about from lack of mobility than of oxidative rust! Say YES to NO and eat foods naturally high in anti-oxidants… Read more »
ONOO, I better get on those happybaby minivinis more often. I tend to get lazy with those and I can feel the ONOO practically oozing when I do them in Jill’s class. Brilliant. Thank you for this blog. I will spread the word and encourage my students to stick to NO.
[…] By: Alexa Kim | Friday, February 24th, 2012 | Comments 0 Category: General Health | [See Part 1 of this blog and the discussion of antioxidants here!] […]