Scientific research is increasingly highlighting the benefits of exercise to help keep the body clock regulated. This information will be of particular benefit to jet lagged frequent fliers all over the world. One of the main problems of jet lag is that the time zone change causes the traveller to lose his or her body’s natural entraining habit.
The literature points to the fact that exercise helps the body keep time and assists it in making adjustments using internal as well as external cues. Up to this point, it was thought (by the scientific community) that external cues were the only guides to resetting the body clock.
As a seasoned frequent flier, it is highly probable that you have experienced the trials of a body clock that won’t adjust to the time zone you find yourself in. You can’t get to sleep when you want to or you fall asleep at inappropriate times. While some fliers ignore the time zone of their destination 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 back home it is probable that their body clock is mid-adjustment and now has to do an about turn. This is stressful to your body especially if you fly often. Some fliers try and manage body clock shifts with stimulants like caffeine, alcohol and drugs. While these may offer some short term benefit they tend to lead down the path of ever diminishing returns and ill health if abused. Frequent fliers looking for a healthy way to reset their body clock should take a serious look at these findings as regular exercise also gives other benefits complementary to good health.
The first bit of research from the University of Glasgow concludes that exercise strengthened the body clock and helped it stay synchronised as the organism aged. The study performed on mice showed how restricting and encouraging exercise at different times of the “day” had different effects on the body clock of mice. A key observation of the findings was that younger mice were able to adapt quicker than older mice. It goes on to say that animals with a strongly synchronised body clock live healthier longer lives. This is easier to understand when you factor in that good synchronisation is key to healthy immune function. Healthy immune function is by definition anti ageing.
The second piece is a researched review by the Exercise Neuroscience Laboratory in Brazil covering research of the past twenty years. It backed up the idea that physical exercise may turn the biological clock back and doing so has added anti ageing benefits. One method by which this can happen is when hormones act as immune modulators. Regular exercise that triggers the production of hormones can affect our immune system functionality.
The take away from this research and review is that jet lagged fliers would do well to take up exercise as part of a preventative strategy to manipulate the body clock so it performs according to their travel schedule. Furthermore keeping the body clock synchronised is healthy and anti ageing.