Exercise, running, sports injury, stress, osteopathy, Cheltenham.


So, so, SO many patients tell me they have no time to exercise.  Some are telling the truth, a child in hospital, a family to support, a baby, two babies, a mental boss, setting up a new business, mortgage, doom.


I’m no fool, I get it, there really isn’t time.  When I worked in fashion, there was a girl in our department who would do her 14/15 hour day (fashion norm) and no matter what, go training at the end of it.

 Sat at a bar drinking away my stress with a colleague one evening, I remarked that she was nuts and eventually she’d break.  My colleague turned to me and said, “No.  We will.”


My colleague was absolutely right.  That same girl still works at Condenast and is successful.  I on the other hand had a break down, retrained as an osteopath and moved to Gloucestershire #cliché.


You cannot, not have time to exercise.


Before I go in to the science, I will state the obvious.  If your body fails you, and believe me it will if you are in a seated position feeling stressed about things most of your life, then you are no good to anyone.  It’s like the aeroplane safety video, “put your own oxygen mask on before fitting others”. 


How exercise makes you a better, stronger, happier, faster, more beautiful business person/ parent/ builder/ plumber/ director/ Doctor/ cattery owner etc


1.   More oxygen reaching more muscle tissues

No biggy right?  You don’t care about muscles you just want to get through the day…….if only it weren’t for that pain in your neck/back/hip.  Well, obviously there can be any number of reasons for things to go wrong in the body but I estimate 75% of patents I see have postural related pains and strains because they are suffering something called mild ischemia in their muscle tissues. 

Ever been for a massage and told, “Oooo, those knots in ‘yer shoulders are dreadful!”  Let me walk you through those painful knots and you will see how simple it is to avoid them.


Each muscle in your body is covered in something called fascia, effectively a pair of stockings over every muscle to separate it from the next.  Then in between the muscle and the fascia is a fluid called hyaluronan.  Crucially, this fluid allows sliding between muscle and fascia and it needs oxygen to keep it slippy. 


Now, if you’ve been bunched up at a desk, tensing stressed shoulders for example it’s like clenching your fist.  In fact, clench your fist now and see what happens….is it white yet?  Yes, that’s because you are restricting blood flow and therefore oxygen. After a while it’ll hurt and you will release your fist.  However, when stressed and immobile we can’t release tension so easily and those muscles became starved of oxygen and send messages to the brain of, ‘pain’ your body wants you to do something about it i.e. move so more oxygen can reach your shoulder and back muscles.  But you don’t because there is a deadline.  Oxygen starvation continues and that slippy fluid turns to PVA glue and ‘knots’ begin to form.


Manual therapy gives temporary relief because by pressing the painful area then releasing it forces a rush of blood back in to that area flooding the starved muscle with nutrients and oxygen.

Exactly the same thing would happen if you went for a run/yoga/gym/desk stretch in your lunch break.


How much more effective would your work be all afternoon if you weren’t in pain… Still no time for exercise?



2.   Hormones


Men, I know you’re thinking you’ll skip over this one because you don’t suffer such afflictions? Wrong.


By now most of us know about cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline.  They are hormones.  We all have them.  We need them, but not in the quantities found kicking about in most peoples systems. 


This ties in nicely with my last rant about oxygen levels.  If we aren’t moving and lot’s of lovely oxygen isn’t reaching tissues then the body becomes physically stressed.  The pain signals flying from your aching shoulders to your brain aren’t just chatting pain, it’s telling the brain something’s wrong.  Eventually, the brain will turn to your adrenals for help.


The adrenal glands perch on top of your kidneys and in times of danger when a predator is trying to eat you, or your boss/ husband/ wife/ teenager/ accountant are bugging they will kick out the three magic hormones, cortisol, adrenaline, noradrenaline. 

This basically enables you to run away faster and more efficiently because digestion stops, blood is shunted away from your extremities (hands and feet- in case one of the predators bite it off, helps you stop bleeding out) higher blood sugar and glucose production occurs for more energy to get away. Sodium and potassium are released to help regulate your body’s pH after this scary event. 


Very good.  You escaped the predator….but not your husband/ wife/ boss/ accountant or teenager who are all still very much a part of your life.  So your body carries on kicking out the magic three and long term effects ensue.  To name a few


·      Weight gain.  Particularly around the middle which is visceral fat and has been linked to increase risk of certain cancers.

·      Increase blood pressure.  Leading to stroke/ heart attack/ aneurism etc

·      Increased cholesterol leading to stroke/ heart attack/ aneurism/ embolism.

·      Decreased immunity.  So you’re more likely to be sick all the time and miss work/ not be around for your family.

·      Poor sleep.

·      Atrophy of the hipposcampus….that means, literally, the part of your brain that is your memory, dies off.


Actually there’s loads more but I imagine this list has already stressed you out and that is counter productive to what I’m trying to do here.


You cannot necessary leave your stressful job, you can’t abandon your family and we all have to pay tax.  So most of the time, the things that stress us out are permanent fixtures and you have to work out coping mechanisms.


Like exercise.


When we exercise you release endorphins which are feel good neurotransmitters.  Endorphins curb appetite, make us feel fab, help boost libido, enhance immune response and combat the effects of stress hormones.  Fact.



4.  Vascular health


I’ll be quick on this subject.


Exercise = Increase heart rate = increase cardiac output ----à

Increased cardiac and vascular health.


Also known as Starlings Law.


This is because the heart is working harder (it gets more muscly, it is after all, a muscle, sort of) and more oxygen is reaching more tissues.

Overall you are less likely to be ill and/or die from heart disease or cardio vascular related problems.



5.  Weight


Lets do this one in plain English again.


Calories in vs Calories out = your weight.


Yes, I’m fairly certain we are all familiar with that one.  The main thing to bear in mind is more than fitting nicely into your bikini/ speedos.  Remember what I mentioned above about visceral fat?

Being heavy, or having an above average BMI for everybody means increase joint wear and tear.  So if you are over weight and do nothing you can be sure that arthritis will be an issue for you one day. 


6. Achievement


I could go on and on about how not exercising can ravage your body and mind.  However, I know, the thing that motivates people most on this subject is feeling good about yourself because your trying to do something about a situation you thought you couldn’t control


 Wine, drugs, sugar/ comfort food, TV, Instagram .…all things we use to help us ease stress.  We justify their use, we deserve it, and it’s only a little pleasure.  Fine, do it, but none of it does ease stress or improve your health.


 ‘Anything worth having is worth working for’,

 ‘Strive and you shall achieve!’

‘ Sweat is fat crying’


(I couldn’t resist that last one, ridiculous) So many motivational quotes.  When exercise becomes a part of your life it becomes like eating meal, you just do it because you feel that your body is lacking in vital sustenance without it.


You need endorphins and the other benefits of exercise I’ve listed just like you need calories.  Without it, your body will fail.