Using movement as a nutrient

10 May Using movement as a nutrient

Almost everyone is now aware that exercise plays a very important role in keeping your body healthy with respect to weight control and cardiovascular and respiratory function. However the benefits of exercise are now understood to involve many more systems in our bodies on top of these now obvious benefits.

Proprioception (‘movement sense’)

The relatively new understanding of the neurological detection of movement referred to commonly as ‘movement sense’ is now revealing that this complicated neurological detection system plays a far more important role that just informing us of what position our limbs are in. The scientific name for this sense is PROPRIOCEPTION.

Every time a joint is moved, skin is stretched, a muscle shortens or lengthens or movement is created in any part of the body, proprioceptive nerve fibres fire and inform the brain (mostly on a subconscious level) of what movements are occurring.

These nerve impulses that are received by the brain however, act not only to inform the body of movement that is occurring, they actually act to charge the brain. i.e. these nerve impulses supply the brain like electricity charging a battery.

The input of proprioception into the brain is now being discovered to more than just regulate movement. New links are being found within the brain that show that this movement sense helps to neurologically regulate mood, focus and concentration, immune function and organ and hormonal control. i.e. it is essential to optimal body function and hence health.

Modern Lifestyle

Through our development in society we have now created an environment for ourselves where it is no longer necessary for us to move to survive. Research shows that our calorific expenditure has massively reduced since agricultural and industrial revolutions have taken us away from our natural hunter gatherer environment (which is what we are genetically designed for).

Research shows that since paleolithic (40 000 years ago) times our daily calorific expenditure (which is a direct reflection on the amount of daily exercise) has reduced by nearly 65%. (Cordain et al).

This is largely due to the introduction of farming, food processing, technology and automotive transport. Although it would seem that this makes life easier for us, what are the effects of this lack of movement and energy expenditure on our long term health?

This is a massive contributing factor to why for every year for the last 50 years there have been more doctors and health care specialists per head but there is still more and more illness per head. How can doctors treat a lack of movement and exercise in a hospital bed?

Regular exercise and movement helps to keep your body functioning optimally and can prevent the occurrence of many lifestyle related diseases.

Effects of Exercise:

Below is a brief list of some of the relatively unknown beneficial effects of exercise:

– Reduces insulin resistance (the leading cause of diabetes, insulin resistance can also influence your immune system, production of thyroid hormones, regulation of sex hormones, blood pressure, cholesterol and lipid levels, general cardiovascular health and osteoporosis among others)

– Increases bone density

– Improves cardiovascular and respiratory health

– Regulates the production of stress hormones

– Promotes neuronal growth in the brain (i.e. helps maintain healthy brain function, exercise has been shown to help in neurodegenerative processes such as Alzhiemers)

– Stimulates learning centres of the brain (studies have shown that children learn significantly better and retain more information following physical activity)

– Inhibits stress/anxiety centres of the brain (it helps combat the effects of a high stress lifestyle and has been shown to help in problems such as ADHD)

– Increases energy levels

– Enhances the global function of the neurological system

– Helps in the management of osteoarthritis

– Helps regulate muscle tone and hence helps prevent against musculo-skeletal injury

Below is a long list of other proven benefits of exercise:

– Prevent up to 91% of cases of type 2 diabetes and obesity (costs $519million per day in the US)

– Prevent up to 50% of all heart disease (costs $501million per day)

– Reduce risk of stroke by 25-30%

– Prevent up to 50% of all stroke deaths

– Reduce congestive heart disease by 63%

– Reduce hospital readmission for heart failure patients by 71%

– Normalise blood pressure

– Reduce risk of developing high blood pressure

– Restore/maintain heart and blood vessel health

– Restore/maintain normal cholesterol and triglyceride levels

– Reduce breast cancer by up to 60%

– Reduce pancreatic cancer in overweight people by up to 50%

– Reduce lung cancer in smokers by up to 72%

– Reduce melanoma cases by up to 72%

– Prevent up to 50% of colon cancer

– Reduce risk of and improve RA and OA

– Prevent osteoporosis ($38million per day)

– Increase new bone formation

– Increase strength, flexibility and balance

– Decrease gall bladder removal by 20%

– Decrease gallstone formation

– Improve digestion and decrease indigestion

– Improve bowel function and elimination

– Increase immune function

– Increase macrophage (anti-tumour) activity and anti-oxidant levels

– Decrease all cause mortality by 67% in the general population

– Decrease all cause mortality by 50% in 61-81 year olds

– Prevent up to 47% of cognitive impairment

– Prevent up to 62% of Alzheimer’s and 53% of dementia

– Significantly improve physical function in older adults

– Decrease chance of ever being in a nursing home

– Decrease rate of ageing

– Enhance learning capacity by up to 12 TIMES!

– Increase serotonin levels (‘feel-good’ hormone)

– Decrease depression by 20% (including relapses)

– Increase growth hormone and healing

– Decrease stress and body breakdown