What is inflammation?
Inflammation is the body’s way of protecting and healing the injured area. Acute inflammation from an injury, such as a sore shoulder is okay, if not repeated too frequently; however, if it is chronic inflammation from eating the Standard American Diet (SAD) or overtraining, that is not okay. Chronic inflammation can lead to chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, autoimmune disease and heart disease.
Why is Exercise a double-edged sword?
Exercise isn’t about calories burned, but instead, it is about frequent movement throughout the day. It is important to find creative ways to increase the number of times you move throughout the day, otherwise, you will not do it. These periods of movement do not need to be hours in duration but more brief periods throughout the day. If you find yourself sitting at the computer for 20 minutes it is in your best interest to get up and move around for 2 to 3 minutes, then sit back at the computer and repeat every 20 minutes. Take the stairs instead of elevators, park at the furthest spot in parking lots instead of always searching for a closer parking spot and go for short walks throughout the day.
On the flip-side, if you engage in too much exercise a.k.a. CHRONIC CARDIO it can be harmful and lead to chronic inflammation as the body does not have time to recover from the last session. It can also lead to gaining excess fat as you wipe out the glucose stores in your muscles and liver from training this way. The depleted glucose stores trigger your brain to force you to eat more carbohydrates than you normally would as it is preparing you for your next bout of chronic cardio.
Here is a perfect real-life example: have you ever watched the start of a marathon race and most of the non-elite runners are overweight! How can that happen as they are training hard by running long distances per week to prepare for the marathon? Maybe part of weight gain is due to the number of miles they are running as well as the type and quantity of food they are eating to refuel the body.
Another example: Visit a coffee shop/bistro on a Saturday morning around 10:00 am to witness for yourself the number of runners who just completed their training session and are now rewarding themselves by stuffing down massive amounts of junk food because they think it is the right thing to do. They forget or do not know you can not out exercise a bad diet.
The same thing happens at the end of a marathon event were the fatigued marathon runners stagger across the finish line and head immediately to the tents filled with donuts, muffins, bagels and any other junk food you can name. Again, to reward themselves or they are forced by their brain to refuel the glucose lost on the run or worst they are reloading because they have another marathon next weekend.
Participating in chronic cardio too often will elevate cortisol levels so you’re locked in the fight-or-flight response, overwork your adrenal glands, weakens immune function, decreases testosterone, and triggers chronic inflammation. Chronic cardio teaches your body to prefer burning glucose to fat, increases sugar cravings, and traps you in fat-storing mode.
Hopefully, this does not sound familiar and you are part of this vicious circle of chronic cardio and massive refuelling. If you are maybe it is time to re-evaluate your training goals and switch to a training regiment of moving slowly but frequently throughout the day, one to two 30-minute aerobic sessions a week keeping the heart rate below 180 minus your age, throw in a couple of resistance training sessions per week and one sprint session every 7 to 10 days. I guarantee, if you follow this training routine and stop eating a SAD diet you will drop the excess fat around your stomach, hips and thighs. You will have more energy to play with the kids and have less inflammation.
Are you part of this group and if so, are you willing to consider this alternate solution?