Pamela Malo, MHS, RD, Arivale Coach
No plot twist here—exercise provides countless health benefits. But would it surprise you to know that the most important part of your workout routine may not be the time you spend sweating in your sneakers, but rather what comes after? Between exercise sessions, your body is hard at work repairing and building muscle tissue, replenishing nutrients to muscles, and reducing oxidative stress and inflammation.
Exercise, Inflammation, and Oxidative Stress
Exercise supports heart health, blood sugar control, stress management, maintaining a healthy weight, bone health, and much more. However, without adequate recovery time, exercise can be a double-edged sword.
Exercise generates free-radicals and inflammation. How much depends on the frequency, intensity, and duration of your activity. This is normal and an important part of building strength. With rest, your body’s innate responses return inflammation and free-radicals to pre-exercise levels. In fact, over time, regular exercise has a beneficial anti-inflammatory effect.
The Genetic Link
Your genes also have a say in how much time your body needs to recover from exercise. It all comes back to your predisposition for inflammation and oxidative stress. Here at Arivale, we look at two variants related to inflammation and one for oxidative stress specifically in the context of exercise.
Compared to the next person, are you predisposed to needing a longer (or shorter) exercise recovery time? (If you’re a member, you can find out your predisposition here.)
My Genes Aren’t My Destiny, Right?
Right. Post-exercise recovery habits like good nutrition, sleep, and stress management all support reduced inflammation and oxidative stress. If you enjoy higher intensity workouts, one important way to neutralize free radicals and keep inflammation low is to eat a variety of antioxidant-rich, colorful fruits and vegetables, nuts, and whole grains daily. Getting enough sleep is also important for muscle tissue repair and helps you perform at your best. Hydration can also help to reduce post-workout oxidative stress.
Even with a genetic predisposition for slower post-exercise recovery, you can still partake in higher intensity exercise if you listen to your body and support it with other healthy habits to keep inflammation and oxidative stress low. Moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week can help reduce inflammation over time while giving you its many health benefits.
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