The more you exercise, the less healthy you are. Wait, who edited this? That had to be a mistake, right? Of course exercise is necessary as part of a balanced, healthy lifestyle, but exercise without proper precaution can prove to be very harmful!
As we all know, working out helps us burn calories, accelerate metabolism and stay fit. That’s why we get up at the crack of dawn for our early morning exercise, rush to the gym after sunset for a late-night workout, and stick to our daily active routines even when motivation is hard to come by. We know that health is the greatest wealth, and through exercise, we can add to our proverbial riches. However, what if I told you that working out could also lead to cancer, speed up aging or make you more vulnerable to arthritis, Parkinson's and heart disease? As much as that may contradict everything you’ve been told in Phys. Ed. class, exercise alone could actually be detrimental to your health. But don’t freak out—there’s actually a very simple solution to once again make exercise beneficial. In fact, most of us already knowingly, or unknowingly ingest our little secret weapon: antioxidants.
Think back to how you felt after your last strenuous workout. Sore? Weak? Couldn’t recover for a couple days? These are common symptoms for most of us who work out. During exercise our body uses oxygen to break down carbohydrates, fats and proteins to produce energy. Oxygen consumption leads to a large increase in the production of oxidants and results in damages that contribute to muscular fatigue during and after exercise. Each intake of oxygen naturally produces some by-products in the body called ‘free radicals’ which are what causes those inflammatory responses. Free radicals are the very culprits that are responsible for turning our workouts against our health!
Now that we’ve figured out the problem, how do we get rid of those pesky free radicals and fully reap the health benefits of exercising? You guessed it; antioxidants! Antioxidants are substances or nutrients that help to prevent, or slow the oxidative damage to our bodies caused by "free radical scavengers". Antioxidants reduce the free radicals generated by an intense workout, relieve soreness and pain, and put your body in a balanced state after exercise. Health problems such as heart disease, macular degeneration, diabetes, and cancer are all attributed to oxidative damage caused by free radicals. That being said, adequate intake of antioxidants can also enhance your immune system and lower the risk of various diseases and infections.
The most common antioxidants are Vitamin A & Carotenoid--which can be found in carrots, squash, peaches, collards or any bright-pigmented fruits and vegetables, --Vitamin C from citrus, strawberry, tomato, or any green-leafy vegetables, as well as Vitamin E from nuts, seed and whole grains. Placebo-controlled research has shown that taking 400 to 3,000 mg of vitamin C per day for several days before and after intense exercise may reduce pain and speed up muscle strength recovery.(1) Some research has reported that vitamin E supplementation in the amount of 800 to 1,200 IU per day reduces biochemical measures of free-radical activity and muscle damage caused by strenuous exercise.(2)
Below we have constructed a small pre, and post-workout snack list to keep you feeling healthy and energized:
- A piece of whole grain toast with almond butter
- A glass of iced Phix energy drink, citrus/teaberry/tropic taste
- Whole grain crackers topped with a small serving of blackberry jam with a side of fresh blueberries or sliced strawberries
- A glass of unsweetened lemonade
- A fresh-picked Florida Navel Orange
Your Phix Friends
- Jakeman P, Maxwell S. Effect of antioxidant vitamin supplementation on muscle function after eccentric exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol 1993;67:426–30.
- Thompson D, Williams C, Garcia-Roves P, et al. Post-exercise vitamin C supplementation and recovery from demanding exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol 2003;89:393–400.