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Exercise is Big Medicine

If you are looking for a “Magic Medicine” that will change your body and mind, look no further than movement.  Growth hormone, Opioids, BDNTF, and eNOS are some of the mechanisms stimulated by exercise to create a strong healthy neuroendocrine and immune system. 
Exercise turns off pain and stimulates the brain.  Exercise enhances circulation and builds strong bodies.  Exercise is the immediate remedy for the consequences of the “Sedimentary Lifestyle” practiced by us chair barnacles and trilobites.  This includes depression, slow metabolism, weak immune systems, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
If you don’t believe that pain pills are beneficial you are right; they are dangerous and addictive.  We have known the cure for pain since 1965 when Melzac and Wall presented the Pain Gate Theory showing how movement turns pain off.  This explains why manual medicine works so well, because through therapeutic movement we change the nervous system.  Intense exercise stimulates your body to rebalance and produce your own pain and mood controlling opioids to exact specifications (the “runner’s high”). 

CB bike (400x300)

Exercise is big medicine for your brain and can erase depression (low frontal lobe activity).  Stimulation is what the brain craves and there is nothing more stimulating to all parts of your brain than movement.   Making your brain practice difficult or choreographed movements and make quick movement decisions will stimulate your brain to make more connections and work more efficiently.   
One of the reasons for the effect of exercise on the brain is that it stimulates release of Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNTF).  This chemical stimulates your brain to grow, making new connections and operating more efficiently.  The brain needs this stimulation to function at its best and reduce your chance of degenerative brain disease.
In my practice I am finding that circulatory problems underlie many issues of electrical tissues, like nerve, muscle, heart and brain.  Circulation is an emotional issue and is exquisitely controlled by the sympathetic nervous system, the same system that creates the stress response.  Exercise stimulates the release of endothelial nitric oxide (eNOS) in blood vessels and nerves to enhance circulation, in response to movement. 
Growth Hormone release is promoted by high intensity exercise and deep sleep; two things that seem to go together to promote recovery from exercise.  Growth hormone release is high in young people and that is what maintains their healthy bones, muscle and skin.  It also burns fat, balances blood sugar and improves immune and heart function. 
You may have noticed the references to “high intensity” exercise above.  Studies have clearly shown the amazing lack of benefit from low intensity plodding exercise that lets you watch TV on a treadmill.  This type of movement will stimulate No Growth Hormone release, nor opioid response.  It will do very little to enhance insulin sensitivity or immune function. 
High intensity exercise means all out, out of breath, break a sweat, effort at 80% or more of your max heart rate!  The good news is that this intense exercise can be of very short duration.  The best enhancement of GH, BDNTF, opioids, eNOS, insulin sensitivity, and immune function is only obtained through high intensity exercise.
Recovery is an important part of exercise and not to be neglected.  Overtraining is a danger, especially here in Colorado where there is always someone who can make you look slow against formidable natural obstacles like altitude.  If you workout more than 4 days per week and are noticing declining performance, poor attitude, pain and injury this could be your situation.  This is burnout, a downhill slide involving all systems.  iNOS is an unhealthy variety of nitric oxide that creates inflammation.  This is released under stress (emotional or physical) and in overtraining.  It lights you on fire (not in a good way).
So you see that exercise is a vital part of healthy living.  Look for it wherever you can.  Take the stairs, run around with your kids in the park, play a musical instrument and you will get immediate benefits.  You can create your own healthy neuro-endocrine-immune system!


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