No Pain, No Gain- Intense Exercise May Be Better for You

A recent article from the New York Times reports on a study carried out by the Scripps Research Institute in Florida which argues that intense exercise may be better for your health than leisurely exercise. The study found that the physiological benefits of intense exercise outweigh those of moderate exercise. This is due to the fact that intense exercise causes the body to produce different, and more beneficial, amino acids. According to the article:

What this finding means, Dr. Conkright (of the Scripps Research Institute) said, is that “there is some truth to that idea of ‘no pain, no gain.’” Catecholamines [a type of amino acid beneficial to muscle growth] are released only during exercise that the body perceives as stressful, he said, so without some physical strain, there are no catecholamines, no messages from them to the CRTC2 protein [also beneficial to muscle growth] , and no signals from CRTC2 to the muscles. You will still see muscular adaptations, he added, if your exercise is light and induces no catecholamine release, but those changes may not be as pronounced or complete as they otherwise could have been.

The study also underscores the importance of periodically reassessing the intensity of your workouts, Dr. Conkright said, if you wish to continually improve your fitness. Once a routine is familiar, your sympathetic nervous system grows blasé, he said, holds back adrenaline and doesn’t alert the CRTC2 proteins, and few additional adaptations occur.

This study provides interesting information for consumers looking to improve their fitness. Making sure that one is challenged during their workout can provide overall health benefits. As is mentioned above, providing a stressful challenge to your muscles makes them more likely to adapt. Therefore, according to this study, pushing one’s self  when working out is extremely benfificlal to gaining a greater level of overall fitness.

As what constitutes intense exercise is different for each individual, it is recommended that consumers speak with their doctor before embarking on an intense exercise plan.

Read More- “For Fitness, Push Yourself” (Gretchen Reynolds, The New York Times)

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A rising senior at Colgate University, John is currently working as a research fellow with Consumers' Research.

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