I have for many years been researching the concept of aging. I thrive on knowledge of all types and obviously aging is a concept near and dear to all of our hearts. My research into aging was intensified after I read several books by Larry Niven including Protector, the Ringworld series and A World Out Of Time. In case you haven't ever heard of these books I'll give you a run-down. If you aren't interested in how I decided to pursue research in aging and just want to read about allergies, scroll down to the next paragraph. In Protector and Ringworld series the idea is that the Earth and Humans are a failed colony of a race called Pak. And in these stories what we see as human beings are the unintelligent breeder stage of Pak. Later, after the introduction of certain chemical compounds, the Pak changes significantly to another form including loss of reproductive organs and a second heart forming in place; tougher skin, increased cranial size and brain capacity, lots of stuff. The problem with Earth was that this certain chemical compound could not grow in the soil and so a whole race of breeder Pak failed to change to final protector form which is extremely intelligent and long-lived. Thus all side effects human beings perceive as aging are really caused by living too long in the breeder form. Without the extra heart the circulation grows week, without other changes the body breaks down. A breeder that fails to change to protector will become frail and weak and die having lived a short life. In these books the human race has somewhat accidentally produced a synthetic chemical called boosterspice that turns out to have some of the necessary chemical cues to keep a breeder Pak (human being) living in a state of near perfect health for hundreds of years. My interest was in boosterspice. In A World Out Of Time, Niven presents another theory which roughly goes like this: the body accumulates waste materials over time and is largely ineffective at getting rid of these waste materials no matter how healthy. This accumulation of waste materials ends up being the cause of all known signs of aging. Fortunately, there was a way to remove all waste materials from a living human body without damaging it, based on some type of selective transporter technology. My interest here was in the idea about accumulation of waste materials being the cause of aging.
What does all this have to do with allergies you ask? Everything! Modern science and medicine is advancing at a tremendous rate. If you know where to look (mostly professional journals) you can read all sorts of fascinating stuff! What did I find out? Accumulation of waste materials in the body IS responsible for many signs of aging. There IS a chemical compound inside the body that is directly responsible for all the benefits of youth, and the lack thereof in later years. Finally, many of these things can be slowed, stopped, reversed. All this and more in a future article. For now, let's talk about allergies.
In my first allergies article I mentioned that my allergies hit me slowly over the course of years. As I once again began researching aging this struck me as strange. Why should allergies come upon one slowly? I recalled that when I moved to Florida I dropped out of all school-related sports programs because I hated my new school. I stopped riding a bicycle because I lived in a busy city and I feared for my life riding a bicycle on the road. I no longer spent hours walking / climbing / crawling through the woods because there wasn't any. The only serious activity I maintained was running which I slowly gave up over a the first few years. Of course to me, it seemed that the change from 16 to 26 resulted in many signs of aging. The onset of allergies I blamed on Florida (partially correct). However, the general matching trends is that I halted the majority of my physical activity over several years and those same several years saw the onset of some bad allergy problems. Connection!
So I have been a cyclist for a very long time, yes. During college I cycled a lot. After college that dropped to perhaps a few times a month if I was lucky. And now, a few times every three months is lucky. This is a horrible state of affairs and in the last several months I have been working on rectifying this problem. However, despite my skill at cycling, despite my strength and endurance, it's obvious that I haven't the physical abilities I once had. Perhaps my general fitness is NO WHERE NEAR my fitness level in the late teens and many of my problems relate to THAT and not to Florida.
So I took up running again! This gave me a chance to spend time with my wife in a bonding activity as she had taken up walking / running to start getting into shape. And she needed a coach, I was always a master pacer. It also gave me a way to gauge my general fitness level in a different manner than cycling. The first day out was a shock! Running an 11 minute mile hurt! I used to run a mile in under 6 minutes! After a few times out I hadn't improved much. The punchline is that my general level of fitness was VERY BAD! Okay, I could cycle like top Sport class rider, but I wasn't fit! My estimation of cross-training went way UP.
I went out and got great running shoes and applied myself to the task. The first change I noticed as I was running first 1 then 2 or 3 miles a day was that my breathing was clearing! I woke up in the morning and a few blows of the old nose and I was clearer than I had been in a decade! I also noticed a tendancy to have more energy throughout the day and better sleep at night. Within a few months I was running in a 10k averaging just over 10 minutes per mile. Not too bad. My allergy conditions continued to improve. But the ultimate test was coming, as Winter was ending and Spring and all the pollen it brings was on the way. By the time Spring hit I had my 1 mile time down to under 8 minutes. Still a far cry from my 1 mile time as a teen, but a big improvement. My 10k time had gone down by fifteen minutes.
I didn't want to take any chances with Spring, which usually hits me so hard that I end up with my nasal system completely clogged to the point of loss of hearing, and a throat clogged to the point of loss of voice and usually for two weeks. I went out and bought a box of Claritin D (actually it was a CVS clone), my replacement for the no longer available Allergy MD. The surprise was that I hardly needed it! The only times I used any allergy medicine at all was when I went for a walk in the park with my wife the day all the trees and flowers bloomed and I got a HUGE doss of pollen or another time I went to someone's house that was absolutely FILTHY. It was the dirtiest home I had ever been in including some condemned homes and the moment I walked in an allergy attack hit me. In the last year I have used less than ONE box of allergy medicine (15 tablets). Going outdoors rarely bothers me at all and my breathing is great! Still not as good as it could be. I have more work to do.
What conclusions do I draw from all this? If you are not fit enough to run an 8 minute mile, you are doing yourself an EXTREME dis-service. Your body is fighting a myriad of ailments that shouldn't exist. You are letting yourself slide down the slope of aging much faster than necessary!
Simply by taking twenty to thirty minutes out of my day (my wife and I simply get up thirty minutes early) I have experienced improvements in: memory, clarity of thought, sleeping, skin tone and texture, back pains, general energy levels, creativity and imagination, ability to handle stress and more.
Oh, and it's improved my strength and endurance at cycling QUITE a bit!
Defeat your allergies with FITNESS!
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