For many of us, exercise is a normal part of our everyday routine. Some of us choose activities that can be done in solitude, like running or cycling, whereas others prefer group exercise, such as fitness classes and team sports. Our reasons for exercising also differ. Many of us do so for the health benefits like stress relief, weight management, increased energy levels and reduced risk of health conditions. Others focus more on the performance benefits of exercise such as getting stronger, faster, or more skilled at a specific activity.
But did you know that there is one change that takes place inside the body in response to exercise that offers both health AND performance benefits? The change is an enhanced antioxidant defense system and it allows for greater protection against oxidative stress – a factor that can be disruptive to both health and exercise performance.
Here’s how it works –
THE BENEFITS OF EXERCISE:
During moderate to intense exercise, free radical levels increase inside the body.
The rise in free radical concentration acts as a signal and must be present in order for the body to adapt to the increased workload. These adaptations occur both short-term (during exercise) as well as long-term (in the days following the exercise session).
During exercise, the signal coming from the free radicals tells the body to do things like –
Increase heart rate so that more blood (filled with nutrients and oxygen) can be delivered to the working muscles and,
Activate the sweat response which helps to regulate body temperature.
The signal also lets the body know that following exercise, it needs to start building stronger, more efficient muscles so that it can better handle the stress from your next exercise session. This is what allows you to lift heavier weights or run faster.
But, because free radicals have the ability to cause damage to cells if left unattended for too long, the body kicks on its elaborate antioxidant defense system to control the increase of free radicals. By stabilizing or getting rid of the free radicals once they’ve fulfilled their signaling duties, the antioxidant enzymes minimize any damage from occurring.
So, with each bout of exercise comes an increase in free radicals and thus, an activation of the antioxidant defense system. And just like your muscles get stronger each time you exercise, the same thing happens to your antioxidant defense system – it gets stronger and more capable of handling increases in the free radical load.
THE PROBLEM WITH OVER EXERCISING:
Unfortunately there’s a catch – too much of a good thing (in this case exercise and the increase in free radicals that comes with it) can turn into a bad thing. A balanced exercise program only causes a small rise in free radicals which can be controlled by our internal defense system. Increased amounts of high-intensity, prolonged and/or strenuous exercise on the other hand leads to a large rise in free radicals which exceeds the protective capacity of our defense system.
When this happens, free radicals are left unattended and are able to damage our cells which leads to a state of oxidative stress. And just like oxidative stress has the potential to disrupt our overall health, it also has the ability to negatively impact our exercise performance. Specifically, active individuals with elevated levels of oxidative stress are likely to be more fatigued and have more muscle soreness – two things that can lengthen recovery time.
OXIDATIVE STRESS PROTECTION
So how can we protect ourselves from the undesirable effects of over exercising?
Previously it was suggested that highly active individuals take antioxidant supplements (like vitamin C & E) to help cope with increased levels of free radicals. Today, it is believed that although this method could provide added protection it might also be detrimental. The reason – antioxidant supplements might remove the free radicals before they are able to signal to the body that it must adapt to the increased workload. In other words, they might prevent the body from activating the mechanisms responsible for building stronger muscles and generating more energy-producing structures (i.e., mitochondria).
New research shows that a more effective way to provide added protection against increases in free radicals might be to naturally stimulate the body’s internal defense system. Studies done on Protandim Nrf2 Synergizer and athletic performance show that –
The supplement can provide enhanced oxidative stress protection in adults 35 years and older by increasing levels of antioxidant enzymes (superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase) and,
Supplementation likely does not interfere with the adaptation process.
Thus, by taking Protandim, individuals 35 years and older that might have a weakened internal defense system will benefit from added protection against increases in free radical production – possibly as a result of over exercising. Additionally, this enhanced protection can help people maintain a healthy, active lifestyle well into their older years by –
Potentially reducing levels of fatigue and muscle soreness associated with longer recovery times and,
Supporting peak performance during each training session which would allow for the greatest benefits of exercise to be achieved.