The body on exercise

Even the most lazy person knows that exercise is good for us. If it’s not our doctor telling us to move more it was our PI teacher at school, or our parents telling us to go outside instead of eyeing down the computer all day. Exercise is healthy. It makes it easier to manage our weight and we feel pretty good when we’re done. But do we know what exactly happens in our body when we exercise? And do we really know just how healthy it actually is? For being such a well know concept, I think we yet haven’t given it all the cred it actually deserves.

Different types of exercise

Cardiovascular/Aerobic

The beloved cardio. Some people hate it, some people love it.

Aerobic training, or cardio training is very important to us. If you’re circulating in the fitness community you’ve probably heard that “cardio is over hyped”, “you don’t need cardio to lose fat”, “strength training is all you need!”. They are not wrong, you don’t neeeed cardio to lose fat, but you do need cardio for like a million other things. Well, at least for about 4 really important things.

  • Heart and lung health. Cardio is your hearts favorite lover boy or girl, or nonbinary. We don’t discriminate any genders here. Cardio strengthens your heart and lungs. Why is this important you might ask? A strong heart and lungs increase our endurance, making your body better to absorb and pump around oxygen. If you didn’t know, oxygen is a pretty big deal.
  • Lower blood pressure and diabetes. When your heart becomes stronger it pumps around the blood much easier to lower blood pressure. Cardio is also a great way to burn of excess glucose in the blood, reducing the risk of developing diabetes, or in helping individuals with diabetes.
  • Fat burning. Cardio is not necessary for losing weight(calorie deficit is) but we can’t deny the fact that it does burn calories. Studies show that people who do frequent cardio have lower visceral fat – the dangerous “inner” fat which lays around your organs. Heard of the term “skinny fat”? Visceral fat is the one to blame. Even though both overweight and underweight people can suffer from visceral fat it’s more likely for a skinny person to ignore taking charge of their health since “they don’t look unhealthy”.
  • Mood booster: a bit of a sweat feast never hurt nobody, quite the opposite! Just 35 minutes of cardio three times a week can increase your mood by like, a lot. The optimal cardio recommendation is to get in 180 minutes of cardio every week. A brisk walk is just fine but try to challenge your heart a bit to keep that little guy happy.
Exercise

Strength training

Strength. I feel like we have two teams here. One team who is all about the gains, preaching for weights and weights only. Building muscles, getting in that protein to get that lean physic all the Instagram fitspo models have. Then we have the other team. The ones who are so afraid of lifting weights, afraid to get “too bulky”. The ones who spend hours a week doing cardio.

None of these teams are better than the other, they are staying active in their own way. But, they should definitely learn form each other. And for the cardio obsessed people out there – it’s time to lift up those weights! Strength training has so many benefits beyond achieving a bomb ass physic. As we grow older we lose our lean muscles tissue year by year. The only way to keep our muscles is to use them.

  • Bone health. that strong muscles make strong bones is the typical slogan, but it should be. Weight training doesn’t only increase muscle mass, but it also strengthens our bones reducing the risk of arthritis and osteoporosis. For females this is especially important, as we tend to lose bone density as we enter menopause. Not the hottest topic I know, but a very important one.
  • Increase metabolism. Lean muscles require more energy at rest which means that you get to eat more food to maintain your weight. As we build muscle our body starts burning fat more efficiently. This process continues even after you’ve had a good pump at the gym.
  • You don’t need a gym. Most people get the image of a buff bodybuilder throwing bricks in the air when we hear “strength training”. This is thankfully not the only way to build muscle. If you are afraid to lift super heavy right of the bat, I’m glad to inform you that body weight exercise is just as effective. The important thing to think about is resistance. You want to train until or close to failure to really challenge your muscle and break down the tissue.

Flexibility

Yet again we have two types of people. The ones who dedicate a solid 15 minutes to stretching after their workout and the ones who don’t stretch for shit. If you belong to the latter (myself included), it’s about time to add in at least 5 minutes of light stretching.

Daily stretching increase flexibility which reduce injury, muscle soreness and shortness, and improves blood circulation to your muscles. Stretching has also shown to improve vein health (hate, absolutely hate that word) which makes your blood flow easier throughout your cute little body.

Exercise

Balance

Pretty straight forward here. We know what balance is and it’s important to have a good sense of it to understand where you are in space. Kinda loopy and weird way to put it, but you get the point. Balance becomes more important as you grow older as it will minimize the risk of falls and injuries. Let’s be honest, a big part in taking care of yourself is to become that cool (and hot) grandma or grandpa who’s fresh as fudge.

Easy ways to improve balance is by having a strong lower body. Simple walking or taking the stairs are underrated ways to improve balance. Yoga is another great balance training which also improves your flexibility. Most gyms also have dedicated balance boards or pilates balls. If one thing is for sure it’s that a Pilates ball will make you question everything you know about balance…

The brain on exercise

Oh, our little mushy head lump, our brain. This weird incredible thing which controls our whole existence. Talk about a power trip. We mentioned that exercise boosts our mood, but how?

  • Dopamine kick. Why do we feel so great after a nice pump? It’s all about dopamine, baby! When we exercise we stimulate the hypothalamus, the part of the brain responsible for hormone production. In the case of exercise, our hypothalamus goes cray cray on releasing the feel good hormone dopamine. Exercise is definitely one of the best happy kicks there is.
  • Brain cell growth and brain plasticity. Who knew that while working that junk in your trunk your are also supporting new brain cell growth? So don’t come here and tell me fit people aren’t smart! Exercise has this wonderful effect of pumping oxygen around our body, and this also includes the brain. More oxygen to the brain stimulates new cell growth and brain plasticity – forming new connections and neurons in our brain.
  • Reduce risk of disease and inflammation. As we age there’s unfortunately a higher risk of catching an “age related” disease such as dementia or Alzheimer’s. Exercise might have the effect of battling these diseases as it improves the formation of new brain cells and plasticity. Besides this, exercise helps regulate other underlying factors such as obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

Sex it up

Now let’s get into the saucy part which everyone loves – sex. Exercise will significantly improve your sex life. Not only does your stamina increase with regular exercise, but as a man you’re less likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction. And for us females exercise and specifically strength training makes the pelvic floor stronger leading to pretty sweet orgasms. Do I even need to give another reason to sweat it out?!

Exercise and sex

So, by now I hope I haven convinced you even more to why you should put on those training shoes and get a good sweat on. What matters in the long run is what you do consistently. It’s better to walk 10 minutes a day than doing nothing. What’s your reason for training more?

Sources

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048389

https://www.health.harvard.edu/exercise-and-fitness/the-4-most-important-types-of-exercise

https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/stretching-may-improve-blood-vessel-health

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/easy-ways-to-improve-your-balance

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-exercise-affects-your-brain/

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fncel.2019.00066/full

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-brain-plasticity-2794886

https://www.google.com/amp/s/qz.com/2018965/how-exercise-protects-the-brain-against-depression-and-anxiety/amp/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/312628

https://www.technologynetworks.com/neuroscience/articles/gray-matter-vs-white-matter-322973

Our daily habits build our reality.

I feel like shit today. Why? The past week has been all over the place. I’ve been off my normal routine. Haven’t been exercising as I usually do while eating foods that give me temporary satisfaction (sugar, fast food, not as much veggies) but make me feel like poop. Waking up today I felt bloated, gross, and not like myself. Besides feeling heavy in my body the biggest reason for my shitty start was how I felt mentally. Negative thoughts, self doubt, no motivation, anxiety, yea you know the drill. This made me think about how our daily habits builds our reality and how taking care of your body is the foundation of building a healthy and successful life – no matter your goals.

Feeling bad is normal.

I feel pretty lucky that I’ve been introduced to this healthy lifestyle early in life. I only have my moms health magazines and my curiosity to thank for that. Over the years I’ve been exercising and eating healthy food consistently to the point where it has become a standard practice in my life. It’s my normal. I need to take care of myself to be a functional human being in society. Because of this, I also feel when I’m off routine. Unfortunately, the majority of people in the western world do not live like this. Stomach issues, mental problems, tiredness, low mood (to name a few problems) have become such a reoccurring thing in society that we look at it as “normal”. I’m here to tell you that this shit ain’t!

Laziness is easy.

Do you know what I think is funny? A lot of things obviously, I’m a woman of humor, but how the medical industry is so focused on prescriptions and medicine more than nutrition and exercise. Heart disease, diabetes, and obesity are a direct result of highly processed food and lack of movement.

Let’s say you have a stomach issue, aight? You hit up the doctor and the first thing he gives you is some kind of prescription when you actually just need to check your diet, get some more sleep, and start exercising. See the point? Nobody prescribes a better diet and exercise. Other examples of this is all the crappy foods we are sold daily through advertising, how easy it is to order food delivery straight up to your home, or how you can just slide on a scooter to get around. Realizing I sound like Mrs Grumpysoon, but please don’t get me wrong. These things are amazing! But they also mean that we need to put more effort into our daily habits.

Daily habits build our reality

Why you should put yourself first.

Times are changing. This is your kick in the butt to take charge of your health and your life. Not a fan of cheese? I’m sorry because we are about to drop some cheesy cliches here. “You can’t take care of others if you’re not taking care of yourself first.”, “Self-care isn’t selfish”. Bom! Mic drop. Linnéa out. I know you’ve heard of this. Probably too many times, but that only means that it’s legit. Putting your health first will only make you a better person in all your life roles. Parent? You’ll become the best parent there is. CEO? You’ll run your business like the improved version of Jeff Bezos. Bottom line, your body is the machine you will need throughout life to do everything you want so you better take care of it.

Your good habits starts now.

We are not Drake and we can’t go from 0 to 100 real quick when it comes to building new habits.What you can do right now is to drink some water, add some more vegetables to your meal. Maybe cook home instead of ordering that Foodora delivery tonight? Take an evening walk and go to sleep at a reasonable hour? If you’re really looking for a change feel free to slide in my email and I will personally help you getting started.

As for me an my shitty start don’t worry. My home-cooked meal is screaming my name and I did a pretty good workout this morning. Getting back to routine never felt so good.

How to fight disease and live longer.

From the moment we are born we literally start to die. Now you’re probably thinking, wow Linnéa, way to spread positivity and encouragement?! Well, you can’t say I’m wrong and for the longest time in modern human history we are obsessed with cracking the code to longevity and fighting disease. As a species we’re not that fond of dying. While we can’t live forever (yet) science does have some research on daily habits that will slow down the aging process and make us more resistant to diseases. So let’s get into it already!

What is disease? 

Mucus, fever, and sore throats. We know how it feels to be sick and the common cold isn’t really that life threatening to us anymore. If you read about the “definition of a disease” you will spiral down the rabbit whole faster than Alice because there is no real definition up until this day. Scientists argue that the term “disease” has changed over time from homosexuality being classified as a disease up until the 1970’s (fucked up, I know) or ADHD being kinda debatable if it’s a disease or a disability. This post will address life threatening chronic diseases defined as “conditions that last 1 year or more and require ongoing medical attention or limit activities of daily living or both”. These types of diseases are caused within our bodies by cell, organ, or tissue damage due to genetics, environment, aging, and lifestyle choices. Cancer, alzheimers, and heart disease are a few examples of these.

Fight disease

Let’s talk about inflammation and disease.

Inflammation is that nice guy you friendzone while chasing after all the bad guys to later come crying to inflammation about. Nice as he is, he’s always there for you until one day he can’t take it anymore. He snaps and leaves you with a heart break for life – quite literally in this case. Now you might be thinking “what the fudge, I thought inflammation was bad?”. My dear friend, you are not wrong. Inflammation itself isn’t inherently bad, it’s simply our bodies way to protect us from disease. The problem occurs when we put our body through so much inflammatory pressure that our immune system can’t keep up anymore. This is when inflammation turns into a chronic disease.

To make this even more clear for the people who want straight up definitions instead of cute metaphors – inflammation is our immune system’s response to infections in our body. This is fighting  everything from viruses to allergic reactions, or processing heavy foods and alcohol. A few signs of our body fighting an inflammation are:

  • Heat
  • Swelling
  • Pain and aches
  • Redness
  • Loss of focus

Remember, these are normal responses and not dangerous when it happens once here and there. It’s the consistent inflammation over time that can turn into a chronic disease. There’s some environmental causes to inflammation that are hard as an individual to control. Air pollution or chain smoking for example. I mean,  chain smoking could easily be fixed by telling all the smokers out there to piss off, but it really isn’t that simple. Luckily there’s more to inflammation that we can control. 

You’re not a slave to genetics

I don’t really know what’s up with humans today, but we like to play victims and blame our circumstances on everything but ourselves. Our health is a prime example of this where genetics gets the baddest rep of them all. “I can’t do anything about it, it’s my genetics. My family has had diabetes for generations. I just have to live with it”. Are you one of these people? If you are, here’s a virtual face slap for you. Now I want you to never say those words again. Okay, we good? Genetics play such a small part in our overall health that it’s almost funny. Our genetics only stands for about a 20% chance of developing a chronic illness. The remaining 80% makes up our environment and daily habits.

So, if you’ve ever been laying sleepless worrying about your family’s disease history I can gladly tell you that the power to break this chain is all in your hands, baby! Having this in mind we can finally go into the lifestyle habits which will make you a disease destroying machine and ooze health from miles away!

Processed foods and disease
Processed foods and additives 

Fruit loops might look cool and all, and that 4 am McDonald’s binge always seems like a great idea. In moderation these are fine but unfortunately we live in a world where the majority of the foods that end up on our plates are processed. Refined sugar, fried food, shortening, and chemical additives are just a few ingredients which sneak their ways into our food. This is where you need to become that person, the food label- reading snob. I don’t mean that you should ditch all your favorite processed foods, but to get an overall knowledge of ingredients will have you make better choices during your grocery haul.

A simple guideline is to keep the ingredients as few as possible as well as paying attention to the first three ingredients, since these are what the majority of the product contains. A fruit candy might be marketed as “contains real fruit” but when you read the label the first ingredients are: sugar, maltodextrin, food coloring, xanthan gum, and at the bottom of the list you read contains fruit syrup from apples or some shit like that.

In an ideal world you should avoid foods in which the ingredients you can’t pronounce or never heard of. But, restriction has never helped anyone and it’s more important to become mindful of the food you eat and what they contain. 

Alcohol 

A nice drink has its place and so does a nice memorable (or perhaps not so memorable…) party once in a while. It can actually be great for our social well being and for calming down. But that drinking too much is bad for us doesn’t really come as a shock. Alcohol is actually one of the macronutrients together with fat, carbohydrates, and protein. 1 gram of alcohol contains 7 calories which is quite a lot. The major problem with alcohol isn’t the calories itself but how it reacts in our body. Excess drinking kills our liver cells and can damage its function over time, which is to detoxify our body. It raises blood pressure, affects our rational thinking and can in excess consumption damage our brain and promote dementia. The decisions we make during the influence tend to not me the brightest which can lead to dangerous situations or unhealthy eating habits. 

Avoid alcohol for longevity
Stress

There’s this fine line with stress. Just enough of it is healthy, spikes our productivity and it actually strengthens our immune system. Like the stress we get from exercise – healthy. When stress becomes an issue is when it becomes chronic. It starts to impact our sleep, our ability to focus, causes anxiety, and increases our heart rate and blood pressure. This kind of stress over time weakens our immune system and makes us more prone to disease. Ever notice how you get sick during the first week of vacation after a few months of extreme work and stress? This is why.

It’s extremely important to make sure you understand your stress triggers. How much work can you handle? How much do you need to sleep? Are you making time for exercise? These things might sound “lame” when you have strict deadlines or going through any other stressful situation, but to be mindful in how you react during stress will improve your health significantly.   

How to decrease inflammation and promote longevity. 

Decreasing inflammation is cool, but isn’t it cooler to not only decrease it but also repair your cells to prevent disease and promote longevity? Sounds pretty sweet to me! Read on to flip the switch, just like Drake would’ve said. 

Whole Foods 

No, the overhyped American organic food store Whole Foods doesn’t have super powers itself, but the type of food you can buy in there does. Not that you need to pay a whole arm and a leg to get whole foods, honestly any store or market will do. The food we eat is the best medicine (or silent killer) we will ever have. We know that fruits and vegetables are good for us but do we really know that every bite we feed our body will directly fight or promote disease? Foods such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, fatty fish, lean protein, and berries contain vitamins and minerals which help our body do its job. When we eat a healthy diet we allow our body to digest the food in a normal way, to carry the vitamins to our cells, blood, brain, and muscles. Proper nutrition makes our body function with eeze, compared to when we eat processed food which then makes our body prioritizing breaking down this foreign intruder before taking care of the essential functions.   

Eat healthy to live longer and fight disease
Sleep

We sleep on sleep! Like, we really do and we need to get our act right! Sleep is one of the most important things we need to survive. This is when we repair and recover, this is when our brain removes toxins to promote proper functioning. Even though we know this, we still always skimp on sleep. People, humans, evolved monkey people – we need to change this ASAP! And no, I’m not the one to talk because I personally have a huge problem with proper sleep. A few ways in which we can help improve our sleep is to:

  1. Exercise during the day.
  2. Make sure to get enough daylight during the day.
  3. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time everyday to promote natural melatonin production (sleep hormone). 
  4. Avoid screens an hour before bed and don’t scroll on TikTok in bed. I might be guilty of this…
  5. Avoid caffeinated beverages 5-8 hours before bedtime.
  6. Eat a healthy and balanced diet.
  7. Avoid alcohol before bed. 
Exercise

Ah, this amazing secret sauce to all good things in life! Exercise is simply amazeballs. It’s good for literally everything. Fighting stress, improving energy, improves sleep, helps against anxiety, boosts your mood, confidence, and of course fights disease and improves longevity. When we exercise our blood rushes to deliver blood to our muscles to increase oxygen and nutrient flow through our body. By doing this we strengthen our lungs and heart which makes us more resistant to all of the above factors such as stress and anxiety while also boosting our immune system. You don’t have to train like an olympian athlete to reap the benefits of exercise. Start with a 30 minute walk and increase overtime by adding in some resistance training. Using your body weight is just as fine as weights to increase muscle mass. 

Fasting

Intermittent fasting might be the trendiest health trend of all time, but trust me, the hype is real. Fasting is one of the best ways to actively fight disease on a cellular level while slowing down the aging process. What fasting does after around 16-18 ish hours of fasting is to make our body enter this magic state called autophagy. Autophagy basically means that the body starts to “eat itself”. While it does sound dramatic this is actually a great thing. During this autophagy state our bodies remove and replace damaged and toxic cells with new healthy ones by “eating” and cleaning itself out. Did that sentence only sound a bit sexual in my head? No? Okay, only me then.

Fasting is, besides being so effective at repairing cells, also a great way to improve mental clarity and focus. You know that “after lunch dip” you can get? With fasting you get none of that, quite the opposite. And despite being without food for so long everyday you will, after some time of practice, actually feel way more energized than if you were eating three meals a day.

As with everything you can’t take a 180 approach to fasting if you’re used to eating three meals plus snacks everyday. Start by fasting 12 hours a day where your longest fasting window will be your night’s sleep (8 hours). Then slowly increase your fasting to 14, 16, 18 or even 20 hours a day. Even just a few days a week is better than none. While fasting you’ll also realize how much we eat by habit, boredom, or just because “the clock says it’s lunch time”. We actually don’t need that much food, and especially not that often throughout the day as we think we do.

Meditation 

That we need to exercise our body is common knowledge, but how often do you exercise your brain? Not that often I’m guessing. Your brain health is just as, if not even more important to fight stress and chronic disease. Mental health is a serious issue across the world and never have we seen so many cases of anxiety and depression in even younger people.  Meditation is a great way to strengthen your brain and to control your thoughts and emotions. If you’re a newbie to meditation and have a brain just as restless as mine, there’s thankfully a lot of apps or even clips on YouTube with guided meditation. 5-10 minutes every day is enough to start.

Meditation to live longer
Social interactions

All those hours at the gym and those salads won’t matter if you completely isolate yourself from society. Okay, I might be exaggerating a bit, but social interactions and relationships are extremely important to our health and well-being. When looking at the blue zones for example (places on earth where people live longest) we see social interactions on a daily basis. People spend time together as a collective. They cook, eat, walk, and just chill in each other’s company. The western societies, especially Nordic European countries tend to be particularly bad at this. People live alone more in these places than anywhere else in the world.

Make sure you set aside time to meet your friends and family more than on the weekends or someone’s birthday. Every social gathering doesn’t have to be grandiose. Go out for a walk together, pick up the phone and do a quick FaceTime call, meet a friend for lunch, plan spontaneous dinners during the week. Quantity is more important than quality in this case (the people you spend time with need to be quality people though. Good vibes only).

The small habits build your future.

Will we ever be able to live forever? Maybe. Would you want to? Maybe. I can’t speak for everyone but a healthy life is a life worth living, no matter if it’s until you’re 35, 65, or 205. As you’re reading this you might be fit as a duck (no idea why we refer to ducks now, but it felt right) and might be thinking “why bother caring so much about diseases now?”. The thing is that chronic disease happens over time. It’s a result of lifelong habits, and you sure as hell would wish you did something about it when you one gloomy day get diagnosed for cancer, alzhemiers or any other chronic disease. Every action counts. The small changes you make can have a dramatic result for your future. Stay safe and healthy.

Sources

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/foods-that-fight-inflammation

https://stories.uq.edu.au/imb/the-edge/inflammation/the-dangerous-century/index.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4841510/

https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/understanding/mutationsanddisorders/predisposition/

https://www.britannica.com/science/human-disease/Classifications-of-diseases

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1299105/

https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/about/index.htm