Pat Henry: Cell rejuvenation and exercise
When our bodies are put under pressure, our cells can become damaged. The best way to repair these cells is through vigorous exercise, writes our fitness expert
The body has 600 muscles and they make up 50pc of our lean body weight. The more we use these muscles through vigorous exercise, the more we stimulate growth and toning. (Exercise on its own will not produce lean tissue - this is done by also adhering to a strict low GI eating plan over a long period of time.)
Vigorous exercise doesn't just tone the body by helping to produce lean muscle tissue, it also plays a huge part in rejuvenating the billions of cells in the body. However, if you don't build up your exercise programme carefully, soreness or muscle injury can result.
After a hard workout you can often feel the soreness in the muscles, as the lactic acid builds up. You can even find it hard to brush your hair as your arms and shoulders stiffen up. Similarly, the legs can tighten up - even after you have stretched.
The good news is that science has recently pinpointed the work of proteins in the body called cytokines, which carry messages to every cell and can control the inflammation which occurs when muscles are put under pressure.
How do they do it? This is how: When cells in the body become inflamed they then get ready for repair. This generally happens quickly as repair and building up of new cells takes place through the action of the cytokines.
Cytokine 1 reduces inflammation and cytokine 2 goes directly for repair.
However, when the body gets put under pressure for any reason, cells are not repaired with such efficiency. In many cases they simply die off, and this can lead to illness. Stress can cause decay in the body's cells, and if the stress continues long-term, the cells don't repair.
Alternatively, when you exercise, decay can trigger growth.
This is because exercise creates inflammation in the muscles, which turns on the cytokines, which trigger repair. In simple terms, the more you reduce stress and start aerobic or any form of vigorous exercise daily, the more your body starts to rebuild new healthy cells.
In turn, these new cells help keep us young and healthy.
Non activity and stress lead only to decay without rejuvenation - and this is one of the reasons the sedentary lifestyle is not advisable.
Clinical trials have shown that the body suffers when experiencing long periods of depression or loneliness, lack of physical contact, boredom and worry. We now know that this is because all of these situations, feelings or experiences cause the body to stay in cell decay.
Science is still in the early days of understanding cell rejuvenation. However, all the signs are that exercise plays a huge part in keeping the body healthy, long into old age.
A strengthening exercise that puts stress on all muscle groups, such as moderately heavy weight training, is one to incorporate into our lives as we age. It is never more important that we keep moving and strengthening our bodies as we age.
Weight training has been proven to show best results, as the human body is designed to lift, pull and move quickly.
I believe that people who are living in nursing homes would benefit greatly from all forms of exercise - especially swimming and hydrotherapy, in fact, anything that improves circulation and gets muscle and brain power moving.
While lots of emphasis is placed on physical activity when it comes to cell regeneration, nurturing the emotional side of life is equally essential. Notice the difference you feel when you greet friends with a tender loving hug.
You often feel the tension dissolve right in your arms and yet the simple act of affection is lost on so many people.
We are sending emails and texts rather than speaking to people who would love to hear your voice.
I try to encourage people to call their mother, father, children, wife, husband, lover, or friends. Speak to real people instead of texting.
How long is it since you called someone to tell them that you really care about them? Why not do it now?
See what difference it can make to someone you care about. Some day it may be too late.
The more we remove loneliness, the more repairing proteins we produce, and the healthier we become.
Cobwebs start dissolving. The body becomes more energised and the sparkle comes back into your life.
So train hard, hug often and eat well.
Health & Living