Embrace the Self-Healing Powers of Your Body and Mind

Your Body and Mind Will Take Care of You If You Let Them.

It is good to remind ourselves so now and then of the tremendous self-healing powers or our body and mind.

Without even noticing it, the trillions of cells our bodies are always striving toward harmony and health.

We are hard-wired to grow and become stronger every minute of our lives from the moment of conception until we get beyond our reproductive age around the age of forty. Even though our bodies experience a gradual decline in strength and performance after forty, the ability of our bodies to heal themselves remains, albeit at a slower rate.

Automatic programs, comparable to those that keep our hearts beating and our bodies at the right temperature, constantly work in the background breaking down and renewing and repairing body tissue.

Aside from these systems that operate entirely on their own without us being aware of it, another system, our immune system, works 24/7/365 to disarm and remove invaders from our bodies that otherwise could have caused serious harm to our health.

It is an amazing ability of our bodies to do whatever it takes to restore and maintain health after injuring ourselves or contracting an illness. Sometimes, the impact of the injuries or the force of the attackers is too much for the body, meaning that we have to call in the help of doctors and modern medicine to help our bodies to overcome the threat.

It is good to keep in mind that, although we perceive it often differently, doctors and modern medicine don’t actually heal our bodies; they create the optimal circumstances for our bodies to do their healing work.

We have been granted stewardship over our bodies. This means that we have the responsibility to let the automatic defence and healing programs in our bodies do their work, to support them and to refrain from doing whatever interferes with their good work.

Staying Healthy, Energetic and Strong Our Entire Life

We support our bodies in the first place with eating food that is biologically correct and therefore recognized by the billions of bacteria and other organisms that live in our gut. These bacteria and other organisms are collectively known as our microbiome or gut flora and play an important role in the processes of digestion, assimilation, immune function and brain health.

Biologically correct food is organically grown, raised without the use of pesticides, hormones and antibiotics and prepared for consumption without chemicals to enhance taste, color, smell and shelf-life.

The effect of hormones, antibiotics and food chemicals is that it harms and diminishes the gut flora and otherwise leads to harmful effects in the body.

We also support our body by performing activities that get and keep our muscle system in good condition. The reason for this is that our muscle system forms the centre-point of good health because it pulls all other body systems forward in their function.

The third way we can support our bodies is by maintaining a state of relaxation as often as possible since this is the state our bodies need for healing and recovery.

Stronger muscles lead to stronger bones, tendons and ligaments, and a stronger cardiovascular and respiratory system. Examples of other body systems that benefit from a strong muscle system are the digestive system, the nervous system, the hormonal system and the lymphatic system.

Many people in our modern society have lost the connection with their body, meaning that they preferably choose for food that tastes good and gives comfort in the short term without ever wondering whether what they eat really benefits their internal body systems.

They don’t link responses from their body with the food they have been consuming, with their physical activity, or lack thereof, and their overall mental and emotional state. Instead of recognizing pain and discomfort as a signal from their body that an issue needs to be addressed, they ignore the issue or suppress the symptoms with painkillers or other types of medication.

If something is out of alignment, meaning our body is not functioning properly, we can take for granted that somehow somewhere we throw sand in the normally smoothly operating programs that keep our bodies healthy, strong and energetic.

And here is the good news…

Our bodies are very forgiving, meaning that even though we may not have been treating it optimally, it improves all its healing and repairing abilities almost immediately the moment we take the steps that create the right environment for our bodies to the work they are hard-wired to do.

Eating healthy, exercising properly while maintaining an overall state of relaxation are the tools we have at our disposal and can use every hour of the day.

If we do it consistently, persistently and patiently, we can see our physical, emotional and mental health gradually and dramatically improve in a matter of months.

Knowing all this is one, actually doing it is another. If you realize that you keep falling back into habits that don’t serve you despite your best intentions and hard work, I suggest you send me an email and see how we can work together to get you moving forward again.

Let’s do this. Visit my website patrickstreppel.com to tell me your story and get your questions answered.

Patrick.

3 Wonderful Tools to Create a Successful Life

Healthy Lifestyle
A Healthy Lifestyle is the First Condition for a Successful Life.

This blog, 3 Wonderful Tools to Create a Successful Life is the fourth in a series of four that explains how the three tools; healthy eating, safe and effective exercising and maintaining a state of relaxed awareness can help us to get the most out of our lives.

Follow this link to read the first article about Safe and Effective Exercising and this link for the second article on healthy nutrition and this link for the third article on stress and the benefits of maintaining a state of relaxed awareness (all three open in a new window).

This blog is bringing it all together and describes how balancing the three tools can form the foundation for a healthy physical body and mind, ready to play its part in creating the life we want.

The image below makes visible how the three tools interact and why it is important to give them all three your full attention to get the most out of the three tools individually and as a whole, forming the Triangle of Health.The first blog is about Healthy Nutrition. Health or disease begins in the gut. Eating food that is biologically correct, meaning that it in harmony and recognized by the body and the billions of bacteria and other organisms that together form our microbiome is the first and most wonderful step you can make for your body. All physical, emotional and mental processes that occur in our body depend on our microbiome in the first place.

Eating food that is loaded with excessive sugar, salt, unhealthy fats, chemicals to give it the desired look, smell and taste and delays natural decay is like shooting yourself in the foot, to say the least. Sadly, this is what the majority of the people do, especially in the industrialized part of our world.

Thinking of how quickly people are in our modern society with suing one another for even the most futile affairs, if our bodies could act and come up for their own, most of us would spend the bigger part of our lives in court and jail.

It is just a thought.

Eating healthy is great, but if our internal systems are weak and underperforming, it will be difficult for our bodies to digest and assimilate the food we eat optimally. Here is where exercise enters the stage. Preserving our muscle tissue and keeping it in good shape helps all other internal systems to thrive. This is what I wrote about in my second blog.

Being physically active is an indispensable element for keeping the body as a whole in good condition. On average, 25 percent of a healthy female body and 40 percent of a healthy male body is muscle. It really pays to give that the attention and care it needs.

The thing is, it needs more than just being physically active to keep your muscles in good condition. Especially after the age of 35, our body begins to break down muscle tissue. It is a natural process, totally in line with the rhythm and cycle of life. For thousands and thousands of generations we were bound to die around that age, if not earlier. The fact that, thanks to technology, we can live much longer doesn’t change the rhythms of nature.

Keeping our muscle tissue in good condition means that we have to take over the steering wheel from Mother Nature and do what is necessary to keep us healthy, strong and energetic. Doing what is necessary begins with getting a basic understanding of our muscle body system and the role of endurance and strength muscle fibers. It clarifies, for instance, that it takes different types of physical activity to keep them both in good shape.

Not understanding this aspect is what I often see in people after forty when they decide to finally get in better shape, buy running gear and see it as a goal to complete a half-marathon or more within a certain number of months.

They couldn’t be a bigger disservice to their body.

The natural process is that we lose on average 6.6 pounds of muscle tissue every decade after the age of 35. When the body has lost that amount of muscle tissue, it means that there is a lot less support for spine, joints and bones in general, with all ensuing consequences. Moreover, the constant bouncing doesn’t benefit any of the internal organs including the entire digestive tract either.

Nasty other side effect is that with long distance running, people only activate their endurance muscle fibers and not their strength muscle fibers, that way signalling the body that they apparently don’t need the strength muscle fibers. The result is that the body begins to break down the so important strength muscle fibers. The reason this happens is that the body is wired to preserve energy and not to waste it. In other words, it is not going to carry around body tissue that is not needed and already consumes costly calories to only maintain it.

If you like to run, by all means, do so but don’t overdo it and be sure to push and pull iron or otherwise work your muscles against a meaningful resistance on a regular basis. Doing this signals your body that you need that precious body tissue to support your spine, joints, bones and your body as a whole.

And yeah, it hurts so now and then because nothing grows in your comfort zone.

Healthy nutrition and Safe and Effective Exercising; one hand washes the other. There is no working around that, regardless of the mind games people use to play to convince themselves otherwise.

What a great bridge to the third tool; a supportive mindset. What can come of healthy eating and regular exercising when the mind is not supportive? This is what New Year’s resolutions look like. Men and Women with the best intentions work hard to change their lives for the better, not realizing that the most powerful part of their brains rejects everything relentlessly that has not already been ingrained and therefore recognized as known and familiar.

Our brains are wired to learn and to consolidate what we have learned into automatic brain patterns or habits. Once a certain behavior has become firmly established through repetition or through the intensity of the experience, it is there. It is a very helpful feature to survive and thrive. Once you learn how to use a bow and arrow through repeated practice, you won’t quickly forget it, and learning that fire is hot is something you learn in a split second.

It looks like that change is the last thing our brains are interested in, but this is not really true. Things constantly change in our environment and our body can effortlessly adapt. It is a matter of being able to tune in into those changes and adjust accordingly consistently. For this, we can use another part of our brains that can observe, reflect and direct like a conductor in front of an orchestra.

Timing is of the essence. Not being aware of the changes that are happing in and around us all the time means growing out of alignment with ourselves and our environment. The result is pain that one way or another manifest in our physical, emotional or mental body.

The part of our brain that plays an important role in storing the automatic brain patterns I just mentioned also harbors a mechanism that is wired to move us away from danger or pain to safety or pleasure as quickly as possible. Back in the days, it meant feed, fight, run or hide to stay alive. Nowadays we don’t just eat but can choose our favorite food, painkiller, movie, gadget or any other form of instant gratification that gives us the pleasure and comfort we seek.

We have become so accustomed to this behavior that we don’t realize how short-lived those pleasures are and the effects they have on our long-term health and wellness.

We can tune-in into the real needs of our body and meet those needs if we develop and train the part of the brains that enables us to do so. This part goes through life with various names. To give some examples: intellectual brain, conscious mind, reflective brain, logical brain and thinking brain.

Developing and training that part of our brains means that we are aware of the true needs of our body as a whole and take the right decisions to live a rewarding and fulfilling life for ourselves and our loved ones.

It means, for instance, that we make the right food choices and exercise regularly to keep our physical body in good condition.

But that is only the beginning because taking care of our physical body means that we create the optimal conditions for our brains to stay healthy and improve their functions.

Success in life, regardless of how we define it, depends on the condition of our brains, and it is largely up to us how healthy our brains are and consequently how successful we will be in life.

We stumble and fall, and we never get it right, and we never get it done, and it hurts so now and then because nothing grows in our comfort zone.

No matter where we are in life and regardless of our age, gender, genetic background and whether or not our big toe hurts, we all can make the baby steps that gradually and eventually get us closer to the life we choose to live and the greater cause we need to pursue.

I hope that this blog, together with the previous three, give you some insights to put yourself on track toward the successful life you want or make it even better than it perhaps already is.

Even though the blogs were a bit lengthy, know that I only scratched the surface and that I have much more to share with you.

Let’s begin a conversation to find out how you can align or better align the three tools I talked about in this and the previous three blogs and experience life at a higher level.

And if your thoughts go to other people who would like to change their lives for the better but feel for some reason they can’t, please let me know too.

Whether the people you think of are your employees, members, patients, clients or friends; we can talk and take it from there.

Visit my website patrickstreppel.com and scroll down a bit or click on “Contact” at the top of the page to find the space where you can type and send your message.

This could be the beginning of something magical.

Talk to you soon!

Patrick Streppel.

13 Damaging Effects of Stress on Our Health

Stress has many damaging effects on our health
Stress has many damaging effects on our health

This blog, 13 Damaging Effects of Stress on Our Health is the third in a series of four that explains how the three tools; healthy eating, safe and effective exercising and maintaining a state of relaxed awareness can help us to get the most out of our lives. 

Follow this link to read the first article about Safe and Effective Exercising and this link for the second article on healthy nutrition (both open in a new window).

This blog is dedicated to the third tool; cultivating a state of relaxed awareness for flow and focus and to master stress.

Let’s begin from the point that the natural state of our body and mind is relaxation. The official name for this condition is homeostasis; the state of balance in the body where all body functions occur smoothly and the demand for energy matches with the supply of energy.

Put in other words, homeostasis allows our body and mind to run like a smoothly operating machine and vehicle, making it possible to function at our best.

Stress is what disrupts the state of relaxation or homeostasis.  Whatever we perceive as a negative, coming to us through one or more of our five senses seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting and smelling, can lead to stress.

Of course, the level of stress we experience depends on many circumstances and therefore always varies. Think of a sliding scale that goes from zero to ten, where zero equals total relaxation and ten a full-blown panic attack.

Emotions precede stress. When the psychiatrist Paul Ekman travelled around the world, he found that, regardless of the part of the world he visited, people had the same facial expressions for certain emotions and concluded that these facial expressions are universal products of human evolution.

He distinguished the following six emotions; anger, fear, disgust, sadness, surprise and happiness.

The first thing to notice is how negatively biased we are as human beings. The first four of the six emotions are negative, number five can be positive or negative and only number six is positive. It may explain why we keep our guard up most of the times and stay on the outlook for threat and danger.

Following the wisdom of ancient cultures, I like to divide emotions into two main categories; fear and love.

The sequence is a follows: challenging events cause instinctive body reactions called emotions that in turn lead to stress with the function to activate the feed, fight, flee and freeze survival actions to move us away from danger or pain to safety or pleasure, after which the body would return to its natural state of relaxation where all internal systems run smoothly.

Here we arrive at a critical point. Our internal body systems don’t run smoothly when we are stressed. To maximize the chance of survival, all body functions that don’t play a role in overcoming the perceived danger are immediately and almost entirely shut down. Examples of these body functions are digestion, assimilation, healing, recovery and rational thinking.

When in a state of stress, blood is shunted away from the gut section to legs and arms for fighting or running and to the brain for fast thinking related to survival. This is no problem if the main cause is staying alive and only lasts for a short while, but becomes a serious problem if stress becomes chronic as so often is the case in our modern society.

Some physical effects of stress on the body are:

  1. Decreased nutrient absorption and decreased metabolic function as a result of decreased oxygenation and gastrointestinal blood flow. This is why our stomach hurts when you eat in a stressed state.
  2. Urinary loss of calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, chromium and selenium.
  3. Nutrient deficiencies, particularly vitamin C, B, iron, zinc and selenium.
  4. Increase in LDL levels, blood triglycerides and blood pallets.
  5. The increase of the stress hormone cortisol, connected to weight gain and inability to lose weight. Excessive output of cortisol accelerates aging of the body.
  6. Decreased gut flora populations. Healthy intestinal bacteria are destroyed which can lead to immune problems and nutrient deficiencies (see also my first blog on nutrition).
  7. Decreased Human Growth Hormone, the key hormone for growing, healing and rebuilding body tissues and burn fat.
  8. Decreased thyroid function, leading to decreased metabolic activity.
  9. An impaired gastric function which can lead to diarrhea or constipation when food particles enter the small intestines before fully digested.
  10. Chronically increased insulin levels, eventually leading to insulin resistance. This effect is especially important for people with diabetes or who try to lose weight.
  11. Decreased bone density (see 2).
  12. Stress accelerates the aging process making one vulnerable to attracting numerous diseases.
  13. Loss of muscle mass, lower sex-drive, low energy and increased inflammation.

We have become so accustomed with stress that we hardly if at all, recognize the symptoms such as:

headaches, neck, back pain, muscle spasms, frequent colds, infections, nausea, digestive problems, chest pain, rapid pulse, anxiety, worry, guilt, nervousness, anger, frustration, depression, difficulty concentrating, racing thoughts, feeling overwhelmed, lonely or worthless, compulsive behavior, defensiveness or suspiciousness, social withdrawal, fatigue, frequent use of over-the-counter drugs, weight gain or loss, increased smoking, alcohol or drug use.

All these symptoms can evolve into emotional and physical disorders such as heart attacks, stroke, hypertension, immune system disturbances as well as autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Stress can also to neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease. In fact, stress affects all body systems.

Stress is an important function to activate the survival reactions to overcome danger and bring us back to safety but can become a danger in itself if we don’t recognize its symptoms and let it continue to do its devastating work.  The first step to mastering stress is realizing its presence. Unfortunately, many people trivialize the symptoms, simply deny them or confuse being stressed with being busy. Other people feel powerless against the stress they experience, see themselves as victims and endure the effects to the best of their abilities.

The obvious next step is making the decision to reduce the stress followed by actually taking action.

In my blog “The Power of Relaxation and Simplicity” I gave some first ideas to master the effects of stress.

Stress is a natural reaction and can be very helpful to bring us back to safety or to maximize our performance. Examples of the latter are athletes, musicians and actors who use stress as a tool to charge their batteries for peak-performance.

If this is not the case, then there is every reason to master the effects of stress and not let it consume you.

In my presentations and coaching, I give people effective tools and techniques to break free from the negative impacts of stress on their overall health and well-being.

If you want to explore how you or the audience can benefit from our working together, I invite you to visit my website patrickstreppel.com and scroll down on the page to send me a message and start a conversation.

I look forward to talking to you soon.

Patrick.

11 Big Excuses to Always Keep Exercising.

Seven of our body organ systems. Not displayed are the hormonal, urinary, lymphatic and reproductive systems.

The title of this week’s blog, 11 Big Excuses to Always Keep Exercising, may help to look at exercising a bit differently than we normally do.

This blog is the second in a series of four that explains how the three tools; healthy eating, safe and effective exercising and keeping a state of relaxed awareness can help us to get the most out of our lives. Follow this link to visit last week’s blog about healthy nutrition (opens in a new window). This blog is dedicated to the second tool; safe and effective exercising.

Many people don’t like to hear it, but sufficient and effective physical activity is important when it comes to maintaining good physical, mental and emotional health.

The Physical Activity Guidelines say:

  • It is recommended that adults accumulate at least 2 1/2 hours of moderate to vigorous physical activity, each week.
  • It is also beneficial to add muscle and bone strengthening activities using major muscle groups, at least 2 times per week.
  • More physical activities provide greater health benefits.

Reality shows that the percentage of adults meeting the guidelines is 32% for adults between 18 and 39, 18% for adults between 40 and 59 and 12% for adults between 60 and 79.

An important reason people have a hard time following the Physical Activity Guidelines is that they don’t realize what happens in their body when they exercise and how it benefits their overall well-being, especially when we age.

Having no or just a general idea of the effects that happen in our body when they age and what proper exercise can do, makes it very hard to feel motivated to commit oneself to working out regularly and consistently and knowing how to put a program together that addresses the needs of the body.

Let’s begin with the first aspect I mentioned. Understanding the processes in our body when we age is the first necessary step to be able to deal with the effects of getting older successfully. Keeping it clear and simple, I often begin with explaining that the aging process begins around the age of 35 with a decline of the Human Growth Hormone, the hormone that made us grow stronger and bigger during the first phase of our life. The decline of the Human Growth Hormone is the start signal for a chain of effects that begins with a decline in muscle mass.

If we don’t take action to maintain our muscle mass, we’ll lose on average 6.6 pounds per decade. Because it requires 50 calories per day to maintain one pound of muscle tissue, the body, once arrived at the age of 45, burns off about 330 calories less every day.

The first consequence, if we don’t adjust our eating patterns, is weight gain. The second consequence is a loss of strength which makes performing daily activities more challenging, and the third consequence will be the appearance of pains and aches such as lower back, joint and neck pain since there is less muscle to support the spine, joints and bones in general and more fat tissue to carry around.

Unfortunately, that is not yet the end of the story. Because all body organ systems are connected, and the main function of those other systems is to serve the muscular system, they too begin to show a decline in their function and strength.

This image shows seven of the eleven body organ systems that together form our body:

From left to right: skin, respiratory system, bones, muscle, digestive system, cardiopulmonary and nervous system. Not shown in the image are the hormonal system, the lymphatic system,
the urinary system, the reproductive system.

To illustrate this with some examples;

  • Heart and lungs are responsible for delivering blood with oxygen and nutrients to the muscles and removing waste. The less muscle mass, the less oxygen and nutrients are required, and the less waste needs to be removed, which means that these functions will slow down and weaken, making them vulnerable.
  • Because a shrinking muscular system can do with a smaller supply of food and consequently produces less waste, the entire digestive system slows down, which often translates into bowel movement problems and increases the risk for colon cancer in the longer term.
  • Two other effects of declining muscle mass are decreased bone density, raising the risk of fractures, and deterioration of the nervous system making one more susceptible to mental problems such as anxiety, depression and in the long term Alzheimer’s.

The big takeaway so far; muscle is the centre point of good health and therefore worth preserving.

Think of this, keeping your muscular system in good condition means optimizing the function or all other body systems.

Optimize one body system and optimize ten other at the same time. What a bargain!

A question people often ask is; “but how do you do that and what if you realize that you have already lost quite a bit of your original muscle mass over the years?”

The good news is that you can preserve your muscle mass and build new muscle mass at any stage of your life and through that soften and even undo the symptoms such as energy loss, weight gain, pains, aches and other discomforts and that we can avoid wasting time on the doctor and hospital visits.

To illustrate that the process of muscle decline and related health decline is reversible I often refer to a study that reports about 19 patients, men and women all in their 90s, all living in a nursing home. Each of the participants performed five exercises, working all the major muscle groups of the body, twice a week for 14 weeks.

The result at the end of the 14-week period was that the participants gained on average 4 pounds of muscle, lost 3 pounds of fat, increased their upper-body strength by 40%, increased their leg-strength by 80% and reported significantly less discomfort in their neck, upper-back and lower-back areas. They reduced or discontinued the use of crutches, walkers and wheelchairs, and one woman made so much physical improvement that she left the nursing facility to rejoin her husband in an independent living apartment.

Improving one’s quality of life can be that simple.

The only way to improve our physical fitness is through muscle activity and healthy nutrition, which explains the important role of regular physical activity combined with supportive eating habits. A sedentary lifestyle, often accompanied by unhealthy eating habits, directly affects one’s fitness level and subsequently one’s health.

My last week’s blog explained the importance of healthy nutrition and what we can do to optimize our food intake. This is the link to that blog (opens in a new window).

A big misconception when it comes to exercising and physical activity, in general, is that we have and use one type of muscle for the various activities of daily life. The truth of the matter is that muscle tissue consists of several types of muscle groups, each with their own specific functions and abilities. To keep it simple, let’s focus on the two main groups of muscle fiber types:

Type 1 muscle fibers, also known as slow twitch or endurance muscle fibers, and type 2 muscle fibers, also known as fast twitch or strength muscle fibers.

Both muscle fiber types are connected to specific physical activities. Comparing both muscle fiber types in the diagram below shows how much they differ from each other.

Strength/Type 2/Fast Twitch
Muscle Fibers  
Endurance/Type 1/Slow Twitch
Muscle Fibers
Poor in endurance, high in strength. High endurance, poor in strength
Develop short, forceful contractions Develop long, continuous
contractions
Speed and power Endurance
Only recruited by the central nervous
system during high-intensity work
Recruited by the central nervous
system during low-intensity work
Recover slow Recover fast
Work without the use of oxygen
(anaerobically)
Work with the use of oxygen
(aerobically)
White color due to the absence of
oxygen-carrying red blood cells
Red color due to the presence of
an abundance of oxygen-carrying
red blood cells

We need the fast twitch muscle fibers for strength and for times we need to fight or flight. This means translated to modern daily circumstances that we need fast twitch muscle fibers for activities such as carrying our shopping bags, maintaining good posture and walking stairs, and the fight and flight ability of these muscle fibers to catch a bus or to keep ourselves on our feet when we trip.

The slow twitch muscle fibers are important for ongoing low to moderate intensity activities ranging from sleeping and sitting to walking the dog and vacuuming.

Males and females have identical muscular systems. Both are equipped with about 50 percent slow twitch and 50 percent fast twitch muscle fibers. The fiber type distribution is also the same. It’s one’s gender, age, genetic blueprint and type and level of physical activity that largely accounts for the size and strength of the fibers.

Preserving energy is an important reason for the existence of these two muscle fiber types. Slow twitch muscle fibers consume less energy than fast twitch muscle fibers. The central nervous system, the system that controls voluntary muscle contractions therefore always activates slow twitch muscle fibers first.

The Central Nervous System (CNS) only activates the energy-expensive fast twitch muscle fibers when we need to overcome a resistance that exceeds 25 percent of our maximum strength.

This effect is called the size principle, meaning that muscle fibers are recruited from smallest to largest, always beginning with the slow twitch muscle fibers.

This is what it looks like in a diagram. The rectangle represents the total of muscle fibers in a body and is divided in two equal parts; 50% fast twitch muscle fibers and 50% slow twitch muscle fibers. The 25% and 75% on the left indicate that if we don’t need more than about 25% of our maximum strength, our Central Nervous System will only activate the slow twitch muscle fibers and leave the metabolic expensive fast twitch muscle fibers at rest.

Strength                                                            Muscle Fibers

75% About 50% FAST TWITCH muscle fibers
Strength / type 2 / Anaerobic, glycolytic / White
High in strength
Activated when using 25% – 100% of maximum strength
Big in size, slow recovery
25% About 50% SLOW TWITCH muscle fibers
Endurance / type 1 / Aerobic, oxidative / Red
High in endurance
Activated when using less than 25% of maximum strength
Small in size, quick recovery

The fact that the CNS only activates the fast twitch muscle fibers when we need more than 25 percent of our maximum strength means that these fast twitch muscle fibers remain dormant when the level of physical activity stays below the 25 percent threshold. They even won’t take over the task of the endurance muscle fibres when the latter get tired.

Another principle enters the picture at this moment: if you don’t use it you’ll lose it. Muscle tissue is a metabolic active tissue which means that the body has to spend energy to maintain muscle tissue. Spending energy on maintaining muscle fibers you don’t use equals wasting energy and is not in line with how the body is wired.

The body responds by breaking down what is causing the waste of energy. In other words, it begins to break down precious muscle tissue.

This natural process already automatically occurs when we age. When we reach the age of 35, we hit the phase in life called somatopause. From this point in life on our body begins to break down muscle tissue, a result of declining human growth hormone (HGH) levels, as I explained earlier.

This effect was never a real problem for our ancestors since they never got older than 40 or 50. Life expectancy nowadays is much longer, which is a true privilege but a privilege that comes with the responsibility to keep our body in good condition. Maintaining our HGH levels becomes increasingly important when we age to prevent our body from deteriorating disproportionally fast. The direct result if we don’t will be a rapid decline of the quality of our life and becoming a burden on the life of others to help us live a decent life.

To prevent this from happening and to improve and maintain our HGH levels and muscular system as a whole, we need to signal our body that we need both the type 1, endurance, slow twitch muscle fibers as well as the type 2, strength, fast twitch muscle fibers. The method to give the body this signal is through stimulating both muscle fiber types on a regular basis through specific forms of physical activity.

The specific forms of physical activity to stimulate the two muscle fiber types are for the:

  • Type 1/endurance/slow twitch muscle fibers: endurance training, also known as cardiovascular training, cardio, aerobic training or aerobics
  • Type 2/strength/fast twitch muscle fibers: (high intensity) strength training, also known as resistance training, weight training and anaerobic training

What to do if you value a body that is both strong and energetic, allowing you to maintain an active and independent living? Be sure to follow the Physical Activity Guidelines I mentioned at the beginning of the blog and save yourself for all sorts of mind games that prevent you from acquiring and maintaining the physical health you deserve.

Talking about mind games, next week I’ll go into the emotional and mental aspect aspects of well-being. One can eat the healthiest food available and follow all guidelines for physical activity if all that goodness isn’t supported by a relaxed mindset that allows focus and flow in one’s life, nothing much can be expected from one’s intentions and efforts to create a happy life.

In the meantime, if you want to bring your physical, mental and emotional well-being to a higher level, for yourself, someone else or a group of people you are part of or represent, go to my website patrickstreppel.com (opens in a new window) and scroll down to fill out the form. Time is precious.

Let’s begin a conversation.
I look forward to receiving your message.

Take care for now.
Patrick.