Create an Exercise Routine That Works Best for You — And Counteract Inflammation and Other (Yahoo Life)

Posted: May 09, 2023 in In the News

This article originally appeared in Yahoo Life on May 9, 2023.


Create an Exercise Routine That Works Best for You — And Counteract Inflammation and Other

By Janet Lee

You may have heard the phrase “exercise is medicine.” It’s some of the best medicine, in fact. In addition to providing that dopamine and serotonin-induced high, it helps reduce the risk of any number of chronic conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, fatty liver disease, dementia, depression, and more. It can also help mitigate the severity of these diseases and potentially reduce the need for some medications. And it slows the aging clock, keeping you feeling vital and strong — mentally and physically — well into your senior years. Exercise may accomplish all these feats in part because it helps reduce inflammation.

Research published in the journal Aging and Disease has shown that it does this in a few ways: By reducing the accumulation of fat that can creep on with age (fat lights a blowtorch under inflammation), stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, and triggering the release of your body’s natural anti-inflammatory compounds.

The Exercise-Inflammation Connection

The conundrum is that exercise is also a potential inflammation trigger. Raising your heart
and respiration rate increases inflammation temporarily, which then subsides. According to a 2020 review, published in Frontiers in Physiology, exercise has a significant impact on inflammatory markers. High-intensity exercise with reduced recovery periods (think: daily hard-core cycling classes) and repeated ultra-long bouts of endurance exercise (running a few hours a day for many days) create a persistent increase in inflammation. Moderate exercise doesn’t appear to negatively increase inflammation. That’s not to say you should stay away from those long jogs or HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts; just pace yourself. Aim for no more than two or three HIIT bouts a week and pay attention to your recovery, which may be the most important aspect of any consistent fitness routine. A few tip-offs that you may be overdoing it: Your resting heart rate is higher in the morning, you’re having trouble sleeping, and you’re getting sick more often.

“Exercise is really important,” says cardiologist Monica Aggarwal, MD, co-author of Body on Fire: How Inflammation Triggers Chronic Illness and the Tools We Have to Fight It. “Not everyone can do a high load of exercise and everyone’s goal should be different. Just move as much as you can. You don’t need to run if you haven’t walked. If you overdo it, some of the things you’re doing can become inflammatory.”

Wrist Watcher

If you’re craving some feedback on your healthy habits, the WHOOP wearable can help. It’s a sleek wrist monitor that collects your data and sends it to an app, which provides feedback. The app gathers info during the day, telling you how much stress you put on yourself (whether through exercise or anxiety), how well you slept (it will wake you up at the best time based on your needs and rhythms), your body temp, and resting heart rate. It uses that data to calculate a Recovery Score every day, showing if you’re pushing yourself too hard.


“Any type of activity is better than nothing,” says certified personal trainer Anthony Wall, senior director of global business development at the American Council on Exercise in San Diego. “Ten minutes per day will give you more benefit than just a few minutes, but it’s not a magic number. It’s about creating frequency and volume. Even if what you’re doing isn’t very high intensity, those minutes do add up, like making deposits into your savings account.”


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