We are not designed to be sedentary….
by Charlotte Watts
Exercise is fundamental for our immune systems, regulation of cholesterol, blood pressure, heart function, mental function, management of stress hormones etc. The “etc” here really does mean everything that your body does and its regulation of all functions. It is constantly trying to get you back to a resting state where everything is within “normal” parameters, like blood pressure, blood sugar levels, female hormones, the pH (slightly alkaline) of your blood. It is when it finds difficulty reaching this point of homeostasis (staying the same) that the real problems occur and when symptoms begin to show; for instance an inability to cope with stress often shows up in symptoms like irritability, insomnia, energy slumps, loss of concentration and depression. You can see here that the body is struggling to get back to a balanced functioning state. It will also be using up lots of nutrients and may be damaged by elevated levels of stress hormones.
Healthy exercise can help the body cope with the stresses of life. Physiologically, your body still believes that you are that hunter-gatherer type and so responds with the “fight-or-flight” mechanism; this primes you to be ready to either run away or stand and fight an opponent or predator. You can probably feel these things happening; blood pressure rises to pump nutrients and energy to muscles that tense, pupils dilate to see better, blood thickens to heal wounds more quickly, circulation is diverted away from the digestion and skin (not considered vital in this circumstance) and sugar is released from stores in the liver to the blood for energy. If we have the stress without the physical exertion the body expects in this circumstance, all the sugar, energy and hormones do not have the natural conclusion of being used up. Instead the body has to use up more nutrients and energy bringing down these levels to its resting state. This can become more and more difficult the more the stress continues and symptoms can arise.
All this is occurs as adrenaline is raised, the very substance that people get a taste for when they exercise intensely and regularly. The modern gym mentality where people live very sedentary lives and then suddenly shock the adrenal glands into action is not how we are designed to live. Getting back to how and when the body wants to move naturally can help your body to cope with stress effectively and have further reaching consequences.