The popular story of how low-carb diets work goes something like this: Reducing your carbohydrate...
Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...Tell Me More
We just can’t help it. This epigenetics stuff really floats our boat. The last few weeks we’ve brought you a Dear Mark primer on gene expression as well as news on recent studies examining the role of lifestyle/environment on genetic expression. Diabetes, heart disease, even lung function are impacted by external factors like nutrition, exercise, and pollution exposure. But mental health is part of the epigenetic picture as well: chronic stress and even early emotional experiences, it turns out, may be significant enough to alter our genes’ expression.
Back in the day, Grok stayed in shape by sprinting away from prey, pouncing and jumping across and over varied terrain, rapidly climbing trees and performing other feats intended to ensure survival. Today, however, most of us stay fit by logging a few miles on the treadmill, meandering away the minutes on an elliptical while we flip through a back issue of People, or taking an aerobics class where….oh, we give up. The reality is, modern day workouts really aren’t all that primal.
Have you noticed a decline in mental energy or focus since not doing “cardio”? I have read several reports that indicate that aerobic exercise is best for mental performance. Any thoughts?
Thanks to reader Phillip for his question on the comment boards. I’ve talked a lot over the course of the last few months about chronic cardio and the very real disadvantages of this type of training (higher cortisol levels, oxidative damage, systemic inflammation, depressed immune system and decreased fat metabolism, etc.). However, just because I don’t do chronic cardio anymore doesn’t mean I don’t get huge cardio benefits from the high intensity sprints and other interval exercises I do. This high intensity part of my workout is short compared with the hours I used to used to spend training. I choose to consider efficiency as a factor in my training program, and (as I’ve said on a number of occasions) I’ve never felt better than I do now.
Much like was discussed in Fat Loss 101, building muscle is basically a hormonal event. Hormones such as testosterone, insulin, growth hormone and cortisol are giving the body signals on whether to build muscle, or break it down. While exercise is necessary to create a stimulus for certain hormones to be activated, it is also just a small part of the equation. This is why you will see so many people putting in hard effort at the gym day after day, and never really getting any results. So throw away all those books, stop spending $400/month on supplements, cancel your magazine subscription to Muscle Weekly (or one of the other 75+ fitness magazines out there), and master the basics. This is where you get 90%+ of your results from.
Ah, we all know that feeling of a really good laugh, the kind that leaves you heaving, weepy and pleasantly revived, sighing with satisfaction. Your muscles relax, your face softens (or hurts depending how long you were in stitches), your mood lightens, and your body feels that gratifying high. (Perhaps you’re thinking to yourself now, “Geez, it’s been too long.”)
Dr. Madan Kataria, a family physician from India and founder of the laughter yoga movement, was researching the positive effects of laughter on health when he came up with the idea of formally incorporating laughter into a wellness routine. And we adults, apparently, need the reminder. While children laugh some 400 times a day, we grown-ups only get in about 15 chuckles on average. (Are we lame or what?)
Let’s face it. Some of us grew up in houses where our fathers habitually burned the toast and set off the smoke alarm on a daily basis. Perhaps our mothers roasted the Thanksgiving turkey until you could weave an absorbent bath towel with its fibers. Or maybe grandpa’s grilling style charred every piece of meat beyond visual recognition. Yes, comparative tales of over-cooking are the stuff of familial nostalgia and domestic comedies. We knew it tasted bad (O.K., wrenchingly bad), but was it that bad for us?
Let’s first say that MDA is not about to go raw foodie. We love our veggies and meats, and we say this first and foremost: eat ‘em any way you can. Nonetheless, the bulk of research seems to suggest that cooking, specifically with certain temperatures and methods, can do a real number on the food we eat.