Running shoes versus medications

The highs and lows of running - like cannabis?

Cannabis growing in the streets of Central AsiaCredit: Sue Visser

To get the most out of our exercise sessions we need to work hard enough to generate endorphins, the feel-good neurotransmitters. We also experience a state of euphoria from endogenous messengers called endocannabinoids. New studies show that these molecules (like cannabis) can penetrate the blood-brain barrier whereas endorphins cannot. The longer you keep on jogging the more you will benefit from that runner's high. With a free supply of these neurochemicals you can overcome pain and feel good. Exercise can help a number of cardiovascular related problems. Exercise can also help to:

  • lower elevated blood pressure
  • control insulin resistance
  • improve circulation and the flow of oxygen
  • reduce mental stress and get fresh air
  • improve your cholesterol profile
  • make you fitter and better toned
  • prevent and reduce diabetes 2 and obesity
  • help control fibrinogen levels (blood clotting)

After 30 minutes of strenuous exercise your blood sugar drops. If you continue to exercise, the body gets the message to generate growth hormones. This sets off a fat burning sequence and is why little 10 minute sessions are not as beneficial as a good long, hard hour's workout. But do something, even if it is only a few minutes a day and then build up your fitness level. Do plenty of abdominal work to strengthen the back and to burn off the bulges. Remember that the pleasurable effects on your neurotransmitters are short lived and the body will only produce endocannabinoids when they are needed, providing you maintain adequate levels of Omega 3 oil and keep levels of pro-inflammatory oils, especially the Omega 6 group to a minimum. There are no short cuts to maintaining a healthy essential fatty acid balance to control weight, pain and  inflammation. We need to find out why brain cells and neurons fail to interact with each other. Treating the cause will help us to solve the problem in the first place. 

Balance your Omega 3 oils to improve the "joint" effect

Balance your omega oilsIt is important to understand that the overwhelming publicity about the  benefits of smoking cannabis does not justify the need to zone out and become a pot smoker just to feel less pain or to shrink a tumour. There are other cheaper, more sensible and accessible means to justify these ends. Even without going near a cannabis plant we can all improve the widely claimed beneficial effects, probably with fewer adverse reactions, including the legal implications. There are many herbs and food supplements we can use to improve brain function and neural signalling. 

 Your attitude towards exercise is important. 

Run for fun and get better results

During research to determine the enjoyment factor during exercise, one group of people told go and have some fun on a run while listening to happy music on headphones. They really enjoyed the experience. The other group was forced to exercise, being told that they had to do it because of health reasons. They did not run as far as the "fun" group. They had more aches and pains and were not keen to run again. The moral of the story is to run for pleasure and persist until you feel the runner's high - free cannabis! 

Are you exercise resistant? You may have a thyroid problem

Many people hate any form of exercise, especially those who are in constant pain (fibromyalgia). An underactive thyroid gland (known as hypothyroidism) elevates levels of homocysteine and cholesterol. This condition also slows down the metabolism and causes a resistance to exercise. Heart disease and hypothyroidism are both associated with heavy metal poisoning, especially from mercury tooth fillings. We need to eliminate heavy metals and parasites and then see if the thyroid and heart conditions improve.

Enjoy a regular workout - get high!

We can all choose how and when we exercise and should do it often because it gives us a good break. Sitting on your butt they say increases the calcification of blood vessels so we all need to get up and move, especially in the open air.

A pedometer or heart rate monitor can help you develop an exact awareness of activity levels and encourage more exercise, such as walking, throughout the day. Eat sensibly before training. Avoid sugar or energy drinks because sugar blocks the release of growth hormone. Stay away from fructose and "energy" drinks. If you are unfit and run out of breath, you need to take a good hard look at yourself in the mirror. Exercise releases toxins into the bloodstream and you need to persevere. Take enough calcium and magnesium supplements to prevent cramps.

Muscles ache and stiffen when lactic acid levels rise. Protect your muscles  and your heart by drinking citric acid or vinegar. A teaspoon of lemon juice, apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar in a glass of water with a pinch of salt will make all the difference.

Passive versus aerobic workouts

We are advised to seek balance in all things. Disciplined training of the muscles and posture is as important as cardiovascular fitness. Both aspects are present in dancing, aerobic sessions at the gym and in most martial arts routines. Tai Chi, Qigong and yoga are not as hard on the lungs. One can compensate by having a quick warm up session beforehand. Swimming and dancing are enjoyable, challenging and excellent for a cardiovascular workout..

Different food for different blood types

Blood types and genes affect stress

We all benefit from exercise and need to maintain cardiovascular fitness at all ages. People who run marathons can keep going, even in their 90's without stopping their daily routine. (They may be addicted to endocannabinoids). Exercising to let off steam and dissipate pent-up stress, is not always the best solution for some blood types. Eating to suit your blood type helps us to omit food that causes inflammation. For instance, blood type A is more prone to inflammation (arthritis) from eating too many aubergines, tomatoes and potatoes. 

Blood type A

Blood type A generally has a problem with stress hormones like cortisol and adrenalin. During exercise and physical exertion the levels peak and take a long time to subside. For a stressed out A it is better to focus on meditation and breathing, stretching, yoga or Pilates.

Blood type O

The hunter gatherer is far more active and can benefit from extreme physical activities to relieve stress. Kickboxing and aggressive sports will help to flush out their pent-up stress.

Blood type B /AB

The herders of goats and sheep are best off with puzzles and mind-bending activities. Learning new dance routines, playing a musical instrument or running through a maze will help to shake off their inner frustrations. They are by nature keen to run and walk a lot. Blood type AB is not as clearly defined. They tend to be very stubborn people.

Consider the causes of the "restless leg" syndrome

Some people experience a creepy, tingling sensation in the lower legs when they lie down or even sit for a long time. "You feel you want to ride a bicycle between the sheets!" Others feel uncomfortable after exercise and complain about "restless legs". This condition affects both arterial and venous circulation and is especially experienced in the lower legs, feet and toes. It is usually associated with chronic diseases such as diabetes (peripheral neuropathy) or Parkinson's and even anaemia. The side effects of alcohol, caffeine and medications can also affect the way nerves act on the muscles. Some say that dopamine imbalance causes this restless sensation. For some people a good exercise routine alleviates the syndrome, but for others, circulation and blood viscosity issues need to be addressed..

Listen to your legs - sometimes they need to move

Legs also move instinctively after a period of inactivity or as soon as you lie down. They do this to improve the return of venous blood to the heart to prevent DVT (Deep vein thrombosis). Leg muscles play an important role in blood circulation and may need to move even against your will. In this case a few leg stretches or running on the spot would be highly beneficial. The blood flows and the legs calm down.

If the legs feel crampy after a run or an exercise routine, then arterial circulation may be the culprit (Claudication comes from the Latin "claudicare" meaning to limp). This can be caused by a build up of heavy metals like mercury. 

Mineral imbalances can also disrupt blood circulation. A magnesium deficiency is one of the most common causes. A pleasant way to absorb this is to soak in a hot bath before bedtime with a cup of Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate) added to the water. Standing in a shower does not allow blood to flow as freely around the toes. After the relaxing bath rub lavender or arnica oil on the soles of the feet and massage it into the calves. The legs will be more relaxed and so will you. If this does not work then take 1 tablespoon of blackstrap molasses in a cup of hot water daily. Some sufferers say it makes all the difference. It provides more iron, porassium, magnesium and other minerals and alleviates constipation and water retention.

How laughter can relieve pain and boost immunity

Strenuous exercise, excitement, aggression, fear and shock make us release adrenaline. This hormone from the inner tissue of the adrenal gland is always released with little messengers called endorphins and endocanabinoids. They help to control pain as well as having a mood enhancing effect. People become addicted to activities that release them because they have the same chemical structure as morphine and cannabis. This is why you feel good after an intense physical workout. Laughter can also induce a pan-relieving "upper" providing you do it to the extent that you roll over, cry, stamp your feet and snicker. It blocks the negative effects of cortisol and stress hormones. So instead of getting reactive and angry, just laugh!

During a 1995 study by Doctor Berk of California on the effect of laughter on the immune system observed positive results in volunteers who watched a 60-minute comedy video. Blood samples were taken before, during and after viewing the video as well as the next day. There was an increase in activated T cells, natural killer cells, B cells and immuno globulins, the group of proteins that includes our infection fighting antibodies. The interferon level rose substantially and stayed high even during the following day. During a similar study in 1989, it was shown that laughter helps to decrease the output of stress hormones like epinephrine and cortisol, helping us to relax. It costs nothing, has no side effects and is highly infectious!