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Is “Too Much Exercise” A Thing?

One of my guiding principles as a chiropractor and wellness coach is to provide the best care possible, and that forces me to stay up to date on the latest research in mobility, exercise, strength training, conditioning, nutrition, and neurology.

Ironically, the most compelling research usually demonstrates that the health and wellness practices of the ancient world are, by and large, better than most of today’s modern training techniques. But I’ve already hammered you with my opinion about that.

Too Much Exercise

I was intrigued by a story that I saw earlier this week, and I wanted to share it with you. It really made me stop and think about my attitudes about exercise, conditioning, and balance.

A study of 73 Norwegian army soldiers showed that prolonged intense physical exertion can trigger “leaky gut syndrome,” a condition we have talked about at length here on “Wellness Wednesday.”

If you’re new to the family, your intestines have a semi-permeable wall and gel-like coating that allow nutrients to pass through to the bloodstream during digestion, while keeping in the gut bacteria that digest your food and perform immune system functions. There are several factors that can damage the intestinal wall (allowing bacteria, toxins, and viruses to billow out into the blood stream) and break down the amazing ecosystem of bacteria in the gut. These factors include antibiotics, processed foods, soft drinks, exposure to toxic cleaning products, and many others.

Now, add to that excessive exercise. According to the great article by Claudia Tanner at the London Daily Mail,

The group skied 31 miles (51 km) while carrying 99-pound (45 kg) packs, across four days.

Before and after the training exercise, researchers collected blood and stool samples from the soldiers.

It was found that the microbiome and metabolites – the substance formed in or necessary for metabolism – in the soldiers’ blood and stool altered ‘significantly’ by the end of the aggressive training period.

Furthermore, sucralose excretion in their urine samples rose considerably, indicating an increase in intestinal permeability (IP).

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Naturally, this came as a shock to me at first. Here was legitimate research that took two of the most important parts of my coaching and wellness practice and slammed them into each other. Brutal.

But Wait…

It would be easy at this point to throw up my hands and say, “Well, shoot. How am I supposed to promote a healthy lifestyle when even the good activities can cause problems?” But that would miss the point. I know I missed it the first time.

The key here is the word, “prolonged intense exertion.” The test subjects in this study were performing super-human physical tasks for a prolonged period of time – not the normal trip to the gym. But it highlighted to me the red-flag area where I see people get into trouble with their exercise programs – no matter their background or occupation.

How many times have I seen patients who injured themselves by over-doing it on the bench press, not following OSHA safety guidelines at work, or just pushing themselves too hard?

You can overdo it with weights, with sleep deprivation, or with imbalanced dieting (If I get one more patient who fouled up her metabolism by starving herself to lose a dress size before a wedding, I am probably not going to be very understanding).

Finding Real Balance

Balance is the key to consistent health and wellness. I don’t mean finding a “balance” between junk food and vegetables, or a “balance” between marathon running and couch potato-ing. I mean eating appropriate amounts of the right kinds of food for your nutritional type and doing the kind of physical activities that have served humans well for thousands of years. It starts with a mindset of wholeness.

How did the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Mexico, and Thailand build their immense structures without Nautilus gym equipment? And how did Alexander the Great conquer half the known world without P-90X?

Give me a break.

Everything your body needs to achieve optimal fitness is free…if you know where to look. Sure, you have to spend some money at the grocery store, but you can find healthy, delicious produce for next to nothing at local farmer’s markets, especially here in South Florida. And you can get your body into condition for hand-to-hand combat out in your yard. You don’t even need $120 cross-training shoes. You can do it barefoot…if you’re brave enough.

It starts simply by going to YouTube and working through my “Move Right Monday” video series. Each exercise is focused on a specific muscle group but is designed to exercise that muscle group in the context of all the muscle groups around it. Pick one and do it for five minutes, several times a day for a few days, then add another one. It won’t be long before you start to see significant results in your physique, stamina, balance, dexterity, and energy levels.

And it’s totally free, so I took your last excuse away.

I want to see you achieve your best health and live a long, productive life–even if you never set a foot inside my practice–and it starts with little changes. Together, we can influence generations of people to make good health choices that will change their future. Start by taking eight seconds to share this article on your social media. You have an audience of people I will never be able to reach without you, and you never know whose life you might be changing forever. Oh, and be sure to join the discussion on Facebook, where we are growing a community of people who want to Move Right, Eat Right, Think Right, and Live Right.

“At the end of your feelings is NOTHING. At the end of your PRINCIPLES is a PROMISE.”  — Eric Thomas

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