Exercising is the closest thing we have to the fountain of youth, right? Every doctor and legitimate health care professional will tell you that no diet in the world is going to work unless you also exercise. Exercise is great! We should do it as often as we can and as much as we can. If running an hour a day is good for you, then running two hours a day must be great for you. Right? Not necessarily. In fact, there is such a thing as too much exercise.
How can this be? How can something that everyone agrees is good for you turn out to be bad? Well, it all depends on how much you are doing. Do you run more than fifteen miles a week? Did you know that with each mile over that fifteen miles you are increasing your risk of muscle injury? The evidence put forward by years of visits to the doctor is difficult to debate. The incidence of chronic joint pain rises in direct correlation to how many more miles a person jogs or runs over fifteen in a given week. Indeed, overdoing it doesn’t just bring on excess pain, it can potentially result in much more serious problems such as knee surgery or hip replacement.
Running is an aerobic exercise, as you probably know. Aerobic exercise deals with oxygen production in the blood. But all that production is caused by chemical reactions taking place inside cells and often these chemical reactions result in production of what are known as free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that not only occur in pollution caused by such things as the exhaust from your car, but also during the metabolic process that takes place within your body. Free radicals are a naturally occurring molecule and the body can’t survive without them. Unfortunately, when too many free radicals flood your system, they can damage the cell’s DNA and cause harm to your immune system.
If you run outdoors, especially if you run in the inner city, you are being flooded with free radicals both from within and without. The body has a naturally occurring enemy of free radicals that come to the rescue when too many of them attack genetic material inside the cell. You’ve probably heard of these heroes before. They’re called antioxidants. The four-star generals of the antioxidant army are Vitamin C, Vitamin E and beta-carotene. These antioxidants can be found in various foods, especially those leafy green vegetables your mother always told you to eat. They can also be found in sweet potatoes, nuts, seeds, and fruits. By the way, there is only one tropical fruit you can that contains all of the holy antioxidant trinity: the mango.
If you pump yourself full of these antioxidants, they will fight off the damaging effects of too many free radicals which are caused by over exercising. Which isn’t to say that merely eating mangoes and sweet potatoes will allow you to run for thirty miles a week and never have to worry about sore joints or chronic pain. But if you prepare your body beforehand, you just might be able to ward off the some of the effects.