Take care of your body because it takes care of you

Take care of your body because it takes care of you

There are any number of reasons to eat better and exercise regularly, things like sleeping better and having more energy, less pain, more endorphins and better mood. While these are desirable things, there is an even more fundamental reason to take care of your body—because it cares for you.

This is true even beyond metaphors for caretaking. There are many examples of how the body cares for us, even in desperate times when we least expect it. Things like how after a good and long cry your brain is flooded with endorphins. It releases oxytocin, the same hormone experienced when being held by someone for longer than 20 seconds1. Called the “bonding” or “relationship” compound. Your body makes sure you are held when you cry.

And even if you don’t cry—your brain will become under-stimulated during periods of intense grief as a defense mechanism. Your prefrontal cortex, the “thinking center,” and your anterior cingulate cortex, the emotional regulation part of your brain, are throttled down a couple notches. Neurotrophic factors and signaling molecules are released to restructure your brain—it quite literally grows around your grief—reshaping itself to live a different way, think new kinds of thoughts, feel new kinds of things2.

It’s not just your brain either, the heart also heals of its own ambition. Consider the heart attack—a myocardial infarction—lack of oxygenation in some portion of the muscle making other muscles work, otherwise known as ischemia. After any ischemic attack your cardiac muscles release a molecule called SDF-1 in response to low oxygen. This compound causes stem cells to travel from your bone marrow towards your heart in order to begin repairing the damage3. This is the body restructuring itself in the interest of preserving your heart.

It is such a kind thing to do for yourself—love your body, and care for it because you love it. That is the basis of all wellness—your relationship with your body. Take care of your body for the benefits and better life it gives, but also because your body takes care of you.

Courtesy of Dr Bart Rademaker

Written by Jeremiah Ockunzzi


1)      Gračanin, A., Bylsma, L. M., & Vingerhoets, A. J. (2014). Is crying a self-soothing behavior?. Frontiers in psychology5, 502. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00502

2)      The Traumatic Loss of a Loved One is Like Experiencing a Brain Injury by Amy Paturel. Discover Magazine. Aug 7, 2020. https://www.discovermagazine.com/mind/the-traumatic-loss-of-a-loved-one-is-like-experiencing-a-brain-injury

3)      Hajjar, R. J., & Hulot, J. S. (2013). Myocardial delivery of stromal cell-derived factor 1 in patients with ischemic heart disease: safe and promising. Circulation research112(5), 746–747. https://doi.org/10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.113.300902




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