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Chaparral 2018-2019: 27.2 Our Wellness

OUR Wellness: Fall Harvest - Fitness and Food
by Erin Calderone
Wellness Coordinator


Participants in this year’s Physical Activity Challenge are winning more than just raffles for a free lunch – they’re reaping the benefits of each minute, step and MEP (MYZONE effort point) sown. So what can we expect to happen when we exercise regularly?

  • A stronger, more efficient heart. By stressing your heart in your appropriate heart rate zones, the natural adaptation is for the body to put more muscle in this pump and increase its size. That means that your heart can pump out more blood to the body every time it beats, which means it doesn’t have to beat as many times each minute – and your resting heart rate can actually decrease. Find your target zones here:
  • More flexible arteries. Arterial stiffness is a hallmark of chronic diseases and can increase blood pressure and resistance to flow. But aerobic exercise (cardio) combats this – and more – reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease by 35%! (1)
  • Better blood sugar. Exercise of any kind – cardio or resistance training – can actually increase sensitivity to insulin: that super-important hormone that helps us regulate our blood sugar. And since Type II Diabetes is initiated by the body’s cells becoming resistant to insulin, we can effectively reverse and prevent diabetes by moving more.
  • Stronger muscles, of course. Having stronger muscles doesn’t just mean you don’t have to call for help opening the pickle jar. Strength training can improve bone density, give you better posture, boost your metabolism and prevent musculoskeletal injuries. 
  • Happy thoughts. Exercise has oft been credited with the so-called “runner’s high”, an experience of relaxation, peace and euphoria experienced after a good sweat session. A common fitness-culture belief is that this is the work of the brain’s natural pain-killers: endorphins. But now some researchers think it could have to do with endocannabinoids (2) (our naturally occurring cannabinoids, not the kind you get from enjoying California’s favorite herb). So we may be literally getting “high” from working out - except this kind of high actually boosts brain health too! 


The Autumnal season is most often associated with warm, spicy or stick-to-your-ribs dishes. Smells of something delectable cooking are often some of our best-kept memories. Fortunately, your inner Fall foodie doesn’t have to be squashed (haha, get it?) by nutritional guidelines.

1. Ashor, Ammar W. et al. “Effects of Exercise Modalities on Arterial Stiffness and Wave Reflection: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.” Ed. Yan Li. PLoS ONE 9.10 (2014): e110034. PMC. Web. 17 Oct. 2018.

2. A runner's high depends on cannabinoid receptors

Johannes Fuss, Jörg Steinle, Laura Bindila, Matthias K. Auer, HartmutKirchherr, Beat Lutz, Peter Gass

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Oct 2015, 112 (42) 13105-13108; DOI:10.1073/pnas.1514996112


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