I think my favorite topic in this class was learning about the immune system and how it can be impacted by exercise. I always thought that working out in the cold would make you sick, and that working out more (higher intensity) meant better health. Now that we understand how the immune system works and how the health benefits only arise after moderate exercise, I feel like I understand why people who over-exert themselves can tend to get sick. I like how the immune system chapter was easy to relate the different cellular components to the effects we feel on a macroscopic level. Being able to relate the open window theory to Endure was also helpful because I feel like we were able to see how the immune system can be compromised in different environments and during endurance training.
I found this article from the European Society of Cardiology that explained the results of a recent British Heart Foundation study on first-time marathon runners. Runners who had never completed a marathon before completed six months of training leading up to the London Marathon. Before and post marathon they used MRI’s to measure their heart and blood vessels, a fitness test, and blood pressure and heart rate. The results they found were, to me at least, astonishing. After training for the marathon, the runners had aortas that were 4 years younger than they were before the training. Especially older participants had less aortic stiffness, even if their marathon time was slower. Blood pressure was lowered and overall fitness and heart rate lowered as well. I think one of the coolest things about this article is that it shows you don’t need to be an elite marathon runner to receive the health benefits of an active lifestyle. People running, even slowly, reversed their cardiovascular health and now have younger arteries. As we all know, part of aging is the stiffening of arteries which can lead to stroke and heart attack so if this is what it takes to reduce those risks, I think we should all consider training for a marathon- even if we might not be Nike’s Breaking2 top pick.
European Society of Cardiology. “Training for first-time marathon ‘reverses’ aging of blood vessels.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 May 2019. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/05/190503080607.htm>.
For my project I am going to look at the effects and uses of CBD on athletic performance. CBD, or cannabidiol is a chemical found in cannabis that has been found to reduce pain and anxiety, which is why is has recently surged as a hot topic for professional athletes. Taken as either oil, candy, pills, or other forms, this compound does not produce a high that people associate with marijuana (that’s due to THC). People who undergo rigorous physical training have started using CBD as a non-toxic, non-addictive, natural supplement in order to reduce muscle inflammation and chronic pain. Now researchers are looking into CBD as a possible option for more medically related conditions such as auto immune disorders, neurological conditions, psychiatric illnesses, and more. One article I have read shows that CBD reduces inflammation in rat models of arthritis. This compound works by releasing the neurotransmitter anandamide, the chemical responsible for “runner’s high”. There is lots of controversy in different professional sports organizations whether CBD should be legalized or not. CBD could potentially prevent neuron cell death during a concussion so some players in the NFL believe that it should be legalized. Especially because the compound does not have harmful side effects, it’s becoming more apparent on the market as a positive supplement. I think this topic will be interesting for the class because CBD can be used for so many different conditions not only related to muscle soreness. It’s uses are growing through the research being conducted and I think the class will enjoy learning about how the compound works, how it can be used, and the future market for it as a pain reliever and illness remedy.
Lactate accumulation has been thought to cause muscle fatigue and adverse affects during exercise but there is enough evidence to dispute this point. According to the Point:Counterpoint article, lactic acid accumulation is not the cause of muscle fatigue, it is due to the issues in the excitation-contraction coupling. Increase in K+ causes fatigue by depolarizing the fibers and interfering with the Na+ channels. As metabolites increase such as ADP and Mg2+ and ATP and glucose decrease, muscles fatigue as well. EC coupling is also not affected by the pH changes that come along with lactate accumulation, in fact the lower pH actually releases more Ca2+. McArdle’s disease also stands as an example of how lactate is unrelated to muscle fatigue because these patients are unable to produce lactic acid, yet they fatigue much faster. This provides evidence that the muscle fatigue is indeed caused by other factors and metabolites, not lactic acid. Fast twitch glycolytic fibers also express a specific monocarboxylate transporter that produces a high amount of lactic acid, whereas they could have a different isoform that does not produce as much acid. It must be beneficial for these muscles to have this increased lactate production.
Not only is lactic acid not responsible for muscle fatigue, it also has separate benefits that make lactic acid accumulation beneficial. An article I read titled, “Effect of Lactate Accumulation during Exercise-induced Muscle Fatigue on the Sensorimotor Cortex” used eleven healthy men and a handgrip muscle fatigue exercise to record rates of lactate accumulation and consequent brain activity flow. They found that as the muscles began to fatigue lactate did accumulate in the muscles, but there was also a strong positive correlation with signals to the sensorimotor cortex. Brain activity and signaling could be affected by lactate levels, meaning that without the build up of lactate the sensorimotor pathways could be altered. Lactic acid definitely increases with increased exercise, but there is not enough evidence to say that lactic acid causes muscle fatigue and it is actually likely correlated with pathways that are beneficial for the muscles.
My most cherished athletic moment was switching over from skiing to snowboarding. My entire life I was a skier and then in my senior year of high school I decided I wanted to switch to snowboarding. I figured it couldn’t be that hard, they both involve the same concept: to get down the mountain. Once I did my first run I realized that the muscle groups and coordination for skiing and snowboarding are completely different. I had to switch from relying mainly on the glutes and hips to now involving your hamstrings and calves to turn onto your heels or toes. I was terrified and didn’t think I would be able to make the switch, but after many failed attempts, I made it down the mountain without falling. I knew that I had pushed myself into trying something new and now I have the ability to ski or snowboard which is an activity that I love to do!
I think exercise physiology is a great foundation for other biological sciences. Exercise is not only vital for daily life because movement is how we can be productive, but it is also a form of stress that can lead as an example for other biological processes. When the body starts to exercise, the nervous system starts to put the body into a state of stress and every system is activated in some way. The way our muscles, heart, bones, hormones, etc. respond to this stress is different for each animal and also for each individual. Learning the physiology of our body’s response system to exercise will help us understand how these systems interact with one another and how we can learn to maximize these processes for top performance. Starting with exercise physiology, studying this will then lead to other fields of biology including how exercise response changes over time, how it changes when things are imbalance, and how it can change across animal kingdoms.
I think taking human A&P 1 and 2 will definitely help to understand exercise physiology because once you know the body parts and systems, it will make more sense to now learn how they interact under exercise. I also think taking microbiology will help to understand what happens when we get sick. Having an infection of some sort will have an impact on the levels of lymphocytes and cytokines in your blood which will obviously affect our ability to perform. Also taking life science physics helps with an understanding of the mechanics of flexion and extension, and why if one muscle is weak it can impact the entire process of walking or picking something up.