Tuesday, September 18, 2007


The importance of the mind in all this training.

The study below is interesting on a whole series of levels.

First of all it notes that endurance training can do damage to the body through oxidative stress. We have mentioned the potential downsides of endurance training previously on this blog.

This study though notes that your body seems to be aware that there is potential damage associated with this activity and it produces a protective anti-inflammatory protein. So your body is trying to cope with the danger.

However, the really amazing thing here is that your body produces this protein not in response to the exercise, but even before you do the exercise! It anticipates the stress that is coming! Somehow at some level your mind is aware of what is about to happen and it makes sure that the body's biochemistry does what it needs to in order to minimise the damage. The mind affects the body.

The interaction of the mind and body is fascinating and a huge untapped area. Think of the post I had a while back about the benefits of psyching up for a big lift. Or that on "Is it all in the mind". The mind is so important. It is all connected!

Anyway, the abstract:

Anticipation of subsequent demanding exercise increases the expression of haem oxygenase-1 mRNA in human lymphocytes.
Sport and Exercise Science, School for Health, University of Bath, Bath, UK.

Oxidative stress induces the expression of the cytoprotective and anti-inflammatory protein haem oxygenase-1 (HO-1). In the present investigation, we show that anticipation of subsequent exercise elevates the expression of HO-1 mRNA in lymphocytes. A between-groups comparison of HO-1 mRNA expression in subjects about to complete a half marathon race vs. subjects who were asked to sit quietly in the laboratory showed an elevated expression of HO-1 mRNA prior to exercise (2.6-fold higher in subjects prior to the half marathon, P < 0.01). This observation led us to examine whether anticipation of subsequent exercise leads to differences in lymphocyte HO-1 mRNA expression within the same subjects. In a second experiment, the same individuals completed two trials, one exercise and one rest, approximately 2 weeks apart in a randomised cross-over design. Lymphocyte HO-1 mRNA expression was greater prior to exercise (1.4 +/- 0.3-fold higher in the exercise trial, P < 0.05). These results suggest that knowledge of subsequent demanding exercise may lead to an anticipatory induction of HO-1 mRNA. We tentatively propose that this process has evolved to prepare lymphocytes for subsequent exercise-induced oxidative stress although the mechanism remains to be elucidated.


Anonymous said...

How do you know this is unique to steady state exercise?

Anticipating a grueling HIIT session might have the same effect.

Chris said...

you are right of course - a similar mechanism might also apply to other forms of exercise. It is just that the scientists here were looking at endurance exercise.

I know sometimes before I train, if it is going to be a heavy day or a particularly challenging workout, I get the nervous, butterflies in the stomach feeling...and there may also be other biochemical things going on.

Thanks for the comment