THE TWO SIDES OF STRESS

Stress in modern times most often has a BAD connotation. Stress is blamed for a raft of disorders from headaches to cardiovascular disease. Indeed, stress activates the adrenocortical “alarm reaction”, and if unremitting can indeed implement many chronic problems.

ACUTE stress, however, is often beneficial. The body responds favorably to measured amounts of brief stress, especially if it is YOUR CHOICE, and not demanded of you. It is WORK, when you would rather be doing something else. It is FUN when you are hiking up a steep but beautiful trail in the Swiss Alps. The flavor of reality takes place in the mind.

HEAT SHOCK PROTEINS (HSP) illustrates how your body works. If you get a little overheated, HSPs are produced and benefit any misfolded proteins that result. If you go hungry, a metabolic pathway burns fat and increases insulin sensitivity. If you exercise your mind, BDNF and new neurons result.

THE BODY ADJUSTS TO THE DEMANDS, and benefits flow. The body is designed to function. The trouble is that placing demands on the body is effortful, and effort requires discipline. The Paleolithic Hunter-gatherer lifestyle, the reality to which our metabolism is attuned, REQUIRED plenty of aerobic exercise, just to get food and avoid harm.

Our modern life is replete with deadlines and requirements, and hearts beat rapidly from ANXIETY rather than aerobic demand. Even the trades, which used to require physical energy expenditure have a lot of labor-saving devices. Children, insead of running, ride around on electrically propelled scooters. Little wonder that people are “out of shape” and gaining weight.

–Dr. C

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