Bright colours, crazy names, giant sized cans and marketing links to extreme activities create corporate appeal to these products. They have infiltrated service stations, supermarkets, clubs, bars and offices, with the promise of delivering a fast burst of extreme energy and outstanding performance.
Among the many ingredients found in energy drinks, there are two key elements that I want to focus on. Continue reading
Each waking day there is a battle between our internal physiology and our external environment. In the modern western format, the advantage often lies with the external. Many of us who walk into an office (of varying description) experience the pressure of a tight schedule to fulfill where the expectation of a work-day is grafted around constant output.
I’m going to indulge my AFL bias, and suggest that if our work day were a football game, the match report might go something like this:
Heading into opposition territory, bottom placed Internal Physiology were always going to have a tough day up against ladder leader External Conditions. With the roof closed on External Environment Arena, the home side took early ascendancy with Caffeine and Email goaling in the opening minutes. Ringing Mobile was busy around the packs and provided further scoreboard pressure while Caffeine asserted dominance up forward slamming through a second goal before quarter time. Continue reading
Running is not for everyone!
I was recently on a running track alongside a busy highway when I received a spray of abuse from a passenger in a car. It’s not the first time it has happened – actually it’s surprisingly common. Obviously it didn’t hurt me, and I suppose it comes out of the joy within an action that bears no consequence. Whatever. I don’t really get it…but it leaves me thinking every time. In a twisted way it motivates me. I start to think about how I would respond if the abuser actually had the gaul to do it NOT from a car driving 80kph in the opposite direction to me!
So, with tongue slightly in cheek – and without wanting to be labelled an internet tough guy – I leave my response to destiny in the hands of cyberspace.
Here’s why you’re better off undertaking some physical activity than riding shotgun in a passenger vehicle:
Today’s Western lifestyle is toxic for our brains.
The continual stress of rushing around, meeting deadlines, feeling guilty about not spending enough time with the family and poor sleep habits elevate levels of a hormone called cortisol in our bodies. While this hormone can actively destroy our memory faculties, some surprising research has shed light on a simple way to correct this decay. And it’s not what you might expect. Continue reading
I begin by referring back to an earlier post to expand on a single point regarding our western setting.
As stated in this article, stress should be acute – we perceive threat, we deal with it, and we move on. However, the nature of many stressful situations are diluted, and so we see an internal build up. Our society is laden with fighters who have nobody to fight!
We need to chase a tiger every once in a while!
Think about the recent times where you’ve had more hours of work than working hours in the day. That’s your internal queue to ramp up a response that could – and should – challenge a raging bull. The difference being that with the bull, you dodge it or end up wearing a horn; either way, the outcome is determined within a short matter of time. Continue reading
Before we can make sense of how exercise can help us deal with stress better, it will be useful to understand the physiology of stress and how it affects us.
Needless to say, a great starting point is to highlight that the best way to deal with stress is to reduce your stress drivers and how you deal with them. Let us encourage you to look at those in your daily life and seek the support of qualified therapists in these area.
To support your changes, exercise is a great tool to improve your body’s capacity to absorb the effects of stress.
At a physiological level, stress is a desired response designed for a “fight or flight” situation. The physiological process that is triggered to help us deal with such an event is described below, but its important to keep in mind that it should occur over short durations, and then ‘dealt’ with (by fighting or running!).
The result is the release of adrenaline which is almost instantaneous and increases alertness and cortisol, which peaks at about 15-30 min after the start of the stress trigger. The whole point of these responses is to give us the required energy to deal with the situation at hand, by elevating blood pressure, increasing blood sugar (for energy) and decreasing most other non-essential systems. the problem in our modern western settings is that we don’t face too many ‘acute’ (short lasting) triggers (such as a threatening animal, etc), but rather longer lasting chronic stresses, such as work and financial pressures. In the ‘acute’ settings, increased physical activity was the way we dealt with the threat – i.e. by fighting or escaping – this would then help diffuse the physiological effects of stress mentioned above.
In our chronic western settings we don’t deal with stress in a physical manner. As a matter of fact we all well know that the amount of exercise we do is consistently decreasing, and even more so the busier we are. So we don’t often get to diffuse the heightened physiological responses. The result is chronically elevated levels of cortisol, which lead to Hypertension, Insulin resistance, and OBESITY.
So what is exercise good for? firstly it directly helps to reduce the physiological effects of stress, as we know that it will reduce insulin resistance, lead to hormonal responses that relax blood vessels, and use up excess blood sugar (and fat) for energy! Further more, through exercise the body becomes more physiologically efficient at dealing with the stress hormones in the first place. In addition you get all the emotional feel-good benefits of being active, a sense of achievement, and the opportunity to enjoy time doing something good for yourself!
so, don’t delay, get out there and MOVE!!!