Grappling with the Exercise Grizzly
Your body reacts to exercise the same way it reacts to an encounter with a grizzly bear – it triggers the fight-or-flight response.
Because exercise is a major stressor, your body releases a cascade of hormones to ensure you can physically perform to meet the challenge, just as if you were in a life threatening situation.
Just consider what epinephrine, a hormone secreted by your adrenal glands, does for you as your exercise intensifies and you start to feel discomfort:
- strengthens your heart contractions
- expands arteries (vasodilation) supplying blood to your heart and muscles
- constricts (vasoconstriction) blood supply in non-exercising muscles to force blood to muscles in use
- widens passages in the lungs to maximize oxygen intake
- reduces digestive activity to divert blood to exercising muscles
- mobilizes stored carbohydrates and fats to provide energy (which is why exercise helps sustain weight loss)
- increases alertness (but there’s a tradeoff – you have faster reaction times, but will find it hard to do math – try to do multiplication tables while on the ropes).
Exercise in the gym is preparation for real life in more ways than we realize. You’re developing will power, strength, endurance, and resilience as you grapple with that grizzly in the gym.