Note From Dr.CAugust 4, 2016
The Sleep Success SummitAugust 7, 2016
I receive many questions from readers regarding exercise. Questions like, “Why should you exercise?” “Is it really important?” “Can you do too much?” “If you have adrenal dysfunction, how do you make it work?” Being very pro-exercise, I love to tackle these types of questions to make your journey to health easier and smoother.
Fight or Flight
We have a fight or flight response wired into our make-up. It’s basically many triggers that make our bodies want to fight or run away from things. The paradox about modern life is there are many things that trigger this response. When you walk down the street and hear the traffic noise, your body goes into that mode. When you breathe in diesel particulate fumes with lead derivatives, the same thing happens: Your body goes into the fight or flight mode chemically. If you have a breakfast of caffeine and fructose (coffee and a donut or even a healthy muffin), it puts your body into a fight or flight state. Your system thinks, “Okay, I have either got to fight or run.”It goes into a heightened state of stress and storage. The great thing about exercise is it’s an artificial fight and flight that turns this stress response off. Without it, you’re stuck in that state.
Different Forms of Exercise
The main types of exercise are endurance, cardio, strength training and flexibility training. Which type should you do and how much of it? If you’re working intensely at weight loss or have adrenal dysfunction, I don’t encourage jumping into intense exercise. It’s not time to sign up for a marathon and do a lot more training than you’re used to. Simply maintain where you are, and gently add appropriate movement: light walking, some stretching or calisthenics.
Anytime you want to shift your exercise level, you have to do it slowly. When thinking about intense exercise, increase at a rate of 10% per week at the most. If you’re raising your time of intense activity quicker than that, your body will go into stress mode. It’ll go into the storage state, preventing you from losing weight.You want to stay active but not beat yourself up in the process. The types of exercise that are the least apt to cause your body to go into a storage mode are calisthenics, bodyweight exercises, stretching, flexibility work, chi-gong or yoga. Any of these will be a good place to start.
How about an evening stroll?
Believe it or not, there is a ton of science proving the benefits of an evening walk! The perfect time is just after dinner around sunset. Spend 10 or 20 minutes strolling around your neighborhood. If there is somewhere scenic you can walk, that’s even better. A walk in the evening has shown to be helpful for gently diminishing cortisol response. Having said that, the evening is the worst time for a hard workout because it will do the opposite! It will heighten the cortisol response and prevent you from entering deep relaxation for sleep. Morning is a great time for your hard workout.
The way to evaluate how well your exercise routine is working is by first erring on the lighter side. If you’re jumping back into exercise, do a little less than you think you should. Watch yourself over the next few days to see where your energy levels are. If they crash and take a few days to come back up, then make a note to self that was too much. Take it a little bit lighter next time around. Modify as your needs show up.
Continuity and Consistency
These are both important. Get into a regular rhythm so your body knows when you’ll be exercising and will be expecting it. Gauge how you’re feeling afterward, then gently expand. Movement is great. Movement is fun. It will help you a lot, as you gently expand your exercise routine and begin reaping the benefits.
Dr. Alan Glen Christianson (Dr. C) is a Naturopathic Endocrinologist and the author of The NY Times bestselling Adrenal Reset Diet.
Dr. C’s gift for figuring out what really works has helped hundreds of thousands of people reverse thyroid disease, lose weight, and regain energy. Learn more about the surprising story that started his quest.