Health Fitness

Why frequent fliers need to get serious exercise to fly better

Scientific research increasingly highlights the benefits of exercise to help keep the body clock regulated. This information will be especially beneficial to jet lagged frequent travelers around the world. One of the main problems of jet lag is that the change of time zone causes the traveler to lose the natural habit of dragging their body. Research points to the fact that exercise helps the body keep time and helps it make adjustments using internal and external cues. Up to this point, it was thought (by the scientific community) that external signals were the only guides to resetting the biological clock.

As a seasoned frequent traveler, you have very likely experienced the tests of a biological clock that does not adjust to the time zone you are in. You can’t sleep when you want to, or you fall asleep at inappropriate times. While some travelers ignore their destination time zone on short trips, they still have to face the fact that their body is already making efforts to adjust to it. This means that by the time they get home, their body clock is probably halfway through adjustment and now they have to take a turn. This is stressful on your body, especially if you fly frequently. Some flyers attempt to control changes in the biological clock with stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol, and drugs. While these may offer a short-term benefit, they tend to lead down the road of diminishing returns and poor health if abused. Frequent travelers looking for a healthy way to reset their biological clock should take these findings seriously. We all know that regular exercise also provides other complementary benefits to good health.

The first research from the University of Glasgow concludes that exercise strengthens the body clock and helps it stay in sync as the body ages. The study in mice showed how restricting and encouraging exercise at different times of the day had different effects on the mice’s body clock. A key observation from the findings was that the younger mice were able to adapt faster than the older mice. “Synchronization is key to healthy immune function, metabolism and mood. Evidence suggests that animals that are more strongly synchronized live healthier and longer lives” (Biello)

The second piece is a review researched by A. Deslandes in Arquivos de Neuro Psiquiatria, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which covers the research of the last twenty years. He endorsed the idea that physical exercise can turn back the biological clock, and in doing so has added anti-aging benefits. One method by which this can happen is when hormones act as immunomodulators. Regular exercise that triggers the production of hormones can affect the functionality of our immune system.

The conclusion of this research and review is that jet lag travelers would do well to exercise as part of a preventative strategy to manipulate the body clock to function accordingly when traveling. Also, keeping your body clock in sync is healthy and anti-aging.

Cited works

Biello et al, (2013) Voluntary exercise can strengthen the circadian system in aged mice. Age. ISSN 0161-9152 (doi; 10.1007 / s11357-012-9502-y)

Deslandes A. The body clock keeps ticking, but exercise can cause it to turn back. Arq Neuropsychiatr. February of 2013; 71 (2): 113-8.