You didn’t sleep well. You had a long day at work. You’re exhausted, and you walk through your front door to be greeted by a crisis. Maybe your dog had an accident on the floor or your kids are fighting. Maybe your husband forgot to pick up dinner. You’re mentally, emotionally, and physically shot. What’s the likely hood of handling that situation with grace and dignity? If you’re like me, it’s small. I might snap at my husband, get angry, say something I regret, punish the dog. I just can’t deal.
Have you been there?
But what if you come home, and you’re in a great mood. You’re happy, you feel good, and you have plenty of energy. When you walk through that door, you can handle anything, right? You scoop up your kids and tickle them so they stop fighting. You kiss your spouse and say, let’s go out!
Having enough energy changes our mood, makes us happier, and helps us cope with life’s daily challenges. We need reserves of long-lasting energy that we can call on throughout our day.
Where are you going to get that?
Energy is created by your body. Let’s get technical for a moment, inside your cells is a little thing known as mitochondria. The mitochondria in your body create Adenosine triphosphate or ATP and ATP is the main source of energy for your body. It’s what every cell in your body uses to do it’s job. Need to digest your lunch? Your intestines need ATP. Need to strategize about your company’s upcoming merger, your brain needs ATP. The more ATP you have, the better your body can do it’s job and the better you will feel.
If your mitochondria are the source of your ATP and your energy, then it makes sense that you want to take care of your mitochondria. Do you know what’s good for mitochondria? Exercise!
A couple scientists engineered some mice so they did not have a mitochondrial repair mechanism. That means the mice were stuck with the mitochondria they were born with and as they got older, they had fewer and fewer mitochondria as the ones they started with inevitably got damaged.
The scientists discovered that these mice aged very quickly. Within 8 months those mice were extremely frail and decrepit, with spindly muscles, shrunken brains, enlarged hearts, shriveled gonads and patchy, graying fur. They barely moved around their cages and had no energy. Within one year, the mice were dead.
Except the mice that exercised! Half of these engineered mice had a wheel that they could run on at a very fast pace for 45 minutes three times a week. While their buddies with the same condition were old, weak and gray, these guys had full pelts of dark fur. Their gonads and their brains were still normal size. And they weren’t frail and decrepit. They maintained almost all of their muscle mass and brain volume and could even balance on narrow rods. Tests revealed that the exercising mice had more mitochondria over all and far fewer mitochondria with mutations than the sedentary mice. At 1 year, none of the exercising mice had died of natural causes. The scientists concluded: “Exercise alters the course of aging.”
Mitochondria need oxygen and nutrients to do their work, and exercise pumps oxygen rich blood to the mitochondria. That means your mitochondria can create more ATP which can be delivered to every part of your body and that means more energy.
Give yourself time to exercise, because giving requires action. Action requires energy. The more energy you have the more you can give to others and the more you’ll feel good about it!