We truly enjoy working out, especially engaging in long-lasting exercises, as they provide the most pleasure in terms of physical activities. This enjoyment stems from a variety of reasons, with the most evident being the health benefits associated with these activities. For instance, regular aerobic exercise combats the aging process by preventing muscle and bone loss, reducing the risk of cardiovascular issues, lowering blood pressure, maintaining arterial elasticity and health, boosting the immune system, and serving as an effective means to maintain optimal weight. Additionally, competition is rewarding, as it allows us to test our progress and stamina to deliver our best.
Other reasons for our enjoyment are rooted in chemistry. Engaging in long-lasting exercises can lead to intense exhilaration and euphoria, commonly known as the "runner's high." This is due to the increased release of endocannabinoids, which are biochemical substances similar to cannabis but naturally produced by the body. These molecules travel to our brain and produce psychoactive effects, such as reduced anxiety and feelings of calm. Moreover, our body releases endorphins in response to intense physical exertion, helping to alleviate muscle pain and shaping our workout experience as a positive one.
However, there are potential downsides to consider as well. Engaging in demanding, long-lasting physical activities like marathons or extreme endurance races can strain our tissues and result in consequences. For example, some may experience an increase in colds or infections due to a weakened immune system following the exhausting effort. Our muscles may suffer from numerous micro-tears and take weeks to fully recover. Additionally, our carbohydrate stores may become depleted, and despite efforts to rehydrate during the event, it is difficult to fully compensate for fluid loss.
Despite these challenges, we continue to participate in such activities and strive for optimal recovery. By consulting expert sources such as the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine, we can learn valuable tips for recovery. These organizations emphasize the importance of consuming adequate fluids, electrolytes, energy, protein, and carbohydrates to promote rapid recovery. They recommend a carbohydrate intake of 1.0-1.5 grams per kg of body weight within the first 30 minutes and every 2 hours for 4-6 hours post-exercise. Additionally, consuming an appropriate amount of protein is crucial for muscle repair and building. Endurance athletes, in particular, require increased protein intake of 1.2 to 1.4 grams per kg per day to facilitate complete recovery.
Rehydration is vital, and a rapid recovery from dehydration can be achieved by consuming about 1000 mL of fluid for each kg of body weight lost during exercise. This process should continue in the following days, and rehydration beverages and salty foods can be helpful in replacing fluid and electrolyte losses.
Though supplementation of specific vitamins and micronutrients is not strictly necessary, it is worth considering the role of magnesium (Mg). As Mg plays a variety of roles in cellular metabolism and regulates neuromuscular, cardiovascular, immune, and hormonal functions, its deficiency can impair endurance performance. Athletes may benefit from an appropriate Mg supplement or continue their current supplementation during recovery to ensure optimal results.
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