Inflammation after exercise is critical for you to stay fit and healthy, but there’s a difference between inflammation that may lead to chronic diseases and post-exercise inflammation that can improve your immune system and ultimately decrease day to day inflammation. Learn the best ways to address damage after a workout naturally, it will help you to recover faster as well; some of the things we cover here are:
Inflammaging, Exercise and Your Immune System
Types of Good Inflammation vs. Bad Inflammation
Different ways to fight chronic inflammation and support a healthy antioxidant system
Exercise Supplements for Old Age
How to support your body’s recovery after exercise for older adults
How to stop chronic inflammation in its tracks with the right diet and lifestyle
As age advances, you or someone you know or care for might be faced with brain fog, slower recovery time after exercise, and injury, slower metabolism, and pain and fatigue that just don't seem to go away. I see the effects of unhealthy aging in people’s musculoskeletal issues ー arthritis, tears and sprains, plantar fasciitis, repeat injuries, and others ー and I’ve noticed a clear link between these and other chronic conditions. You can’t necessarily put your finger on it, but it’s the smoking gun behind many health issues.
“Inflammaging” has been a trending term in pubmed research for the past two decades, and researchers now think it might be the master cause of decreased quality of life when you’re older. According to specialists in geriatric research, a common link between neurodegenerative disease, dysregulated metabolism, physical deterioration like arthritis and sarcopenia is the natural oxidative stress and accompanying inflammation of aging.
Pubmed - the largest repository of medical research - shows that articles on inflammaging are on their way up.
Just because we are all subject to the laws of entropy and decay, it does not mean we are all just weathervanes with no choice but to be battered by the winds of life. With the right strategy, you can be on your way, not in the way, to thriving into your perennial years.
With recent research consistently tying exercise to lower inflammation and enhanced immunity ー some even going so far as to call exercise a form of therapeutic immunotherapy ー it's becoming clear that the foundation of healthy old age is healthy exercise and good nutrition.
Inflammation comes in two basic varieties: chronic and acute. Acute inflammation is the kind that helps your immune system respond to an infection. Your body’s antiviral response is an inflammatory response: you ramp up chemicals called inflammatory cytokines to fight an infection and once it is under control, those levels go back down to baseline.
Similarly, acute inflammation is responsible for that soreness after exercise. As long as that level of inflammation stays in check, it’s a positive process - you subject your muscles to stress, your body adapts to that level of stress.
Chronic inflammation on the other hand is the opposite of the inflammation after an infection or exercise. Instead of knocking you out so you can get back up again stronger, chronic inflammation is like an insidious burning ember. You won’t feel a difference from one day to another, but when it catches up with you you will feel it every day.
Chronic inflammation is linked with unhealthy aging. When your body adapts to having inflammatory chemicals wreaking havoc in your blood all the time, that becomes your new baseline. When that constant damage becomes the norm, your body’s adaptation isn’t a positive thing.
Older adults can have a weakened immune system while also having a lower tolerance for exercise; you might be surprised to know that, according to research, the common link is chronic inflammation.
If you underuse or overload your antioxidant system, the results aren’t pretty. On the one hand, underuse leads to deconditioning and loss of tone; you see it as muscle wasting, low bone mineral density, increased risk of falling, and general frailty.
On the other hand, at a certain threshold the inflammation caused by a particularly intense workout ー for example, 100 drop jumps for somebody who’s not trained ー overwhelms your body’s ability to adapt, overloading your antioxidant system and causing sidesteam damage. Without the proper nutritional and physical support, excessively intense activity delays your recovery and impairs your healing, causing the painful phenomenon known as delayed onset muscle soreness, not to mention that it really hurts!
The happy medium is where you can push yourself and still grow stronger from it. Find the right intensity for you and stick with it to see the results in your body and your long-term health. You’ll see it in the mirror in a matter of weeks, but you’ll really be thanking yourself in a couple of decades when you can still keep up with your grandkids on a walk around the park.
We’ve talked about this before in our series on your antioxidant system, glutathione, supporting your glutathione with exercise and recovery, and supporting your glutathione with diet and supplements. This adaptive response is why glutathione ー your master antioxidant ー is depleted during exercise, but your body then produces more afterwards depending on the level of inflammatory activation.
Ultimately, research studies show that those who exercise regularly have lower levels of inflammation and better health ー making those years after 65 to be truly your golden years.
If exercise is the key to keeping your body, mind, and immune system young, then you should know how to optimize your physical activity. Certain nutrients can support your body’s inflammatory response so that you can quickly get back to playing hard without sacrificing the essential adaptive process.
Vitamin C for exercise, vitamin E for workouts, N-acetyl cysteine and glutathione for delayed onset muscle soreness, ibuprofen and acetaminophen for all of the above. You’ve probably heard of people supplementing these powerful antioxidants, but I’ve seen so many people duped by the claims on antioxidant labels. “Feel less sore after exercise”, they say. And truly, high dose vitamin antioxidants do work to minimize soreness - but they come with a cost.
High doses of vitamin C (1000 mg or more), vitamin E (400IU), and good old motrin (ibuprofen) are all effective in reducing pain after exercise, but research from the German Institute of Nutrition shows that they diminish the positive effects of exercise. Other research shows that NSAIDs delay healing and hurt your ability to maintain strong connective tissue into older age. And I would question using them as well, if I am an elite athlete.
A lower, more reasonable dose of some of these antioxidants may be the way to go when it comes to using antioxidant supplements and vitamins for exercise. For example:
Vitamin C needs are increased during exercise, so it’s important to get some, but not too much. Remember that the Institute of Medicine increased the recommended daily vitamin C intake from 60 mg to 90 mg in 2019, so make sure you’re getting enough vitamin C to support good health but not too much that it slows down your healing process.
Over the counter anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen have been shown to actually slow down the healing process and decrease muscle protein growth. In fact, based on an active debate among researchers, when recovering from bone fractures and connective tissue injuries (recall that the hard part of your bones are 90% collagen and tendons and cartilage are 70-85% collagen), I tell clients to avoid pain-killers as much as they can. This is something you will need to discuss with your doctor, but I’d rather not experiment with a potentially damaging “solution” when it’s my body on the line!
You can support your body’s system naturally through diet and lifestyle. Cut out some of the things you know you shouldn’t be doing, and replace them with tried and true healthy activities. After you’ve gotten through the basics, then you can upgrade your regimen with optimized nutrition backed by science - we’re coming out with a cookbook soon that focuses on just that!
An anti-inflammatory diet is a general way of eating that reduces inflammatory ingredients and emphasizes foods that have antioxidants and polyphenols. Mediterranean diets full of olive oil, plant-based diets containing lots of colorful veggies, pescitarian diets that emphasize the omega-3 fatty acids of fish, and nose-to-tail eating that emphasizes healthy organ meats and happy animals with lower levels of inflammation are all examples.
Even though there’s no one, official anti-inflammatory diet, there are common threads that make up different anti-inflammatory diets:
More vegetables, especially dark green leafy veggies. These are rich in vitamin antioxidants, minerals, and phytochemicals ー powerful antioxidants that improve your immune system from a genetic level.
Less sugar - the benefits of eating less sugar goes far beyond just reducing inflammation. Cut out the sweets and you might boost your immune system, reduce your risk for cancer, type two diabetes, and a host of other inflammatory diseases.
More whole grains and less processed, refined grains. The extra fiber in unrefined grains helps you stay fuller longer and fights inflammation in your gut before it creeps into the rest of your body.
More nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes which offer a balance of carbs, proteins, and fats alongside vitamins and minerals to support your body’s metabolism
The inflammation-targeting diets that feature these food groups have been shown in research to reduce cancer-related fatigue, may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, and can help you keep your edge by staving off the inflammation that contributes to arthritis according to the Arthritis Foundation.
Choose a diet that helps you recover from anything, nips problems in the bud before they even begin, and truly feel what it’s like to turn 70 into the new 50!
We always recommend starting with your diet and lifestyle choices. No supplement will work well if it’s layered on top of a shoddy foundation. That said, if you have your diet dialed, you can take your game to the next level with the right recovery supplement that:
Doesn’t slow down your natural inflammatory response
Increases the flow of nutrients to, and waste products from, inflamed tissues
Regulates inflammation, not reduces it, so that your antioxidant system has the capacity to deal with whatever you throw at it
Provides key building blocks that your body needs to grow stronger
Has ingredients with real research to support their claims.
As you can see, good recovery is so much more than just protein or antioxidants. A good recovery supplement covers all your bases and sets you up for success. Resync Recovery and Resync Collagen were scientifically formulated to do just that: support your inflammatory response after exercise in a holistic way.
The ingredients in Resync Your Joints - Collagen Blend are:
Quality controlled, certified, researched type I & II hydrolyzed collagen peptides. These peptides are shown in research studies to speed up your recovery by providing critical building blocks and unique bone-specific anti-inflammatory effects so you can play with your grandkids every day of summer break.
Collagen is a trendy product for good reason: there are dozens of research studies to back up its use for clean energy, straightforward weight loss, injury prevention, and beautiful hair, skin, and nails. Check out our comprehensive ebook guides on everything you could ever want to know on collagen:
Collagen 101: The Ultimate Guide to Improve Skincare, Joint Health, and Energy and The Best Strategies to Resync Your Performance and Recovery with Collagen.
Standardized, quality certified natural nitrates. Aronia berry extract, beet powder and red spinach extract ー the reigning heavyweight in this nitrate trio ー make up our proprietary natural nitrate blend. Your body turns nitrates into “nitric oxide”, a vital molecule that tells your arteries and veins to relax, allowing greater blood flow, greater exercise tolerance, and possibly even lowering blood pressure, according to researchers.
If you want a whole-foods approach to nitric oxide support, check out our guide to eating for NO levels here.
Calcium fructoborate is a remarkably bioavailable form of calcium. Calcium and boron are crucial for improving bone mineralization.
Vitamin C - at a dose you can use. Vitamin C enhances collagen absorption, increases collagen synthesis, and helps recycle nitric oxide genes.
The benefits of these ingredients may go beyond just exercise recovery. Natural nitrate supplements have been shown to help lower blood pressure. Turmeric extract (in our Resync Recovery Blend) is a potent anti-inflammatory and may have anti-arthritis effects. Ginger may relieve chronic fatigue in cancer patients. Polyphenol antioxidants in aronia berry have been researched to support blood lipid panels, glucose control, your gut health and even post-exercise inflammation.
Whether it’s losing your cognitive edge or getting edged out on the tennis court, you might want to consider Resync products to get your mojo back.
Now that you know about the differences between chronic and acute inflammation, healthy inflammation vs. unhealthy inflammation, and what factors contribute to not feeling your best day after day, I’m sure you’re wondering: “Can you stop chronic inflammation?”
If you put the pieces together, you already know that you can enhance your body’s antioxidant capacity by loading it within its ability to adapt and recover.
So the best way to stop chronic inflammation is simple:
Exercise on a regular basis and support your recovery with nutrition, stretching, and myofascial release
Manage your stress levels by reading, meditating, praying, or some other mindfulness practice
Eat phytochemicals and antioxidant polyphenols in superfood veggies. The small doses of these ingredients packs a powerful punch and the nitrates may keep your antioxidant system in top shape.
Cut out sugar, processed foods filled with white carbs, deep fried foods, and other obviously unhealthy foods.
If you liked this article you might also enjoy some of our other writing:
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The Resync Team
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