Free Radicals are highly reactive molecules that are produced as a by-product of many cellular reactions. More than three decades ago, it was established that muscle activity also increases free radical production, a finding supported by subsequent studies.
But aren’t free radicals detrimental, you may ask? Well, it depends, as Steinbacher and Eckl discuss in their review Impact of Oxidative Stress on Exercising Skeletal Muscle.
In people who exercise regularly at reasonable levels, free radicals actually promote the formation of natural antioxidants and help them become stronger and fitter.
Their bodies have adapted to exercise and consequently improved their resistance to oxidative stress. Further training enhances their antioxidant capacity, encourages mitochondrial replication, improves insulin sensitivity, boosts cellular protection mechanisms and lifts the aerobic capacity of skeletal muscle.
Conversely; single, inconsistent bouts of exhaustive exercise in untrained persons are likely to cause oxidative damage, as these people have low supplies of natural antioxidants. This can lead to complaints of muscle weakness and tiredness. Funnily enough, the same is true for people who over-train, as our natural supply of antioxidants is limited in capacity. The key is to build up exercise slowly over a period of time, and be cautious about overdoing it.
But what are free radicals?
Free radicals are produced as a by-product of many cellular reactions. They are kept in check by our body’s natural supply of antioxidants such as coenzyme Q10. However, if overproduction of free radicals occurs, or our antioxidant supply is suboptimal, they can inflict severe damage on the cell. Taking antioxidant supplements such as MitoQ, a revolutionary targeted form of Co Q10, boosts our own supply of antioxidants and reduces free radical damage.