When I first learned about Dr. Al Sears’ PACE exercise program, I thought it was excellent for most people, but I worried that it might be too intense for someone with adrenal fatigue and the associated conditions, but discovered it may be able to help if done in the right way.
One of the primary characteristics of adrenal fatigue is that the sympathetic nervous system, also known as the fight or flight system or stress response system is always on. When the sympathetic nervous system is on, it releases adrenalin, noradrenaline, and cortisol on a continuous basis. This leads to depletion of the gland and its primary hormone cortisol, as well as a heightened state of arousal, often exhibited as high levels of stress. To heal the adrenal glands, one of the primary things that must happen is to stop the sympathetic nervous system from turning on all the time.
An overactive sympathetic nervous system, also known as dysautonomia, is a contributing factor in many health conditions besides adrenal disorders, like high blood pressure, heart disease, anxiety, depression, insomnia, circulation conditions, alcoholism, addiction, hyperactivity, cravings for sweets or carbs, migraines, erectile dysfunction, digestive disorders chemical sensitivities and many more. So calming it down is beneficial to the health in many ways. Just living with a high-stress lifestyle puts your sympathetic nervous system into overdrive and most of the population is under too much stress.
The short bursts of intensity followed by rest and recovery as presented in Dr. Al Sear’s PACE program are very effective for triggering the sympathetic nervous system to turn off. The reason the PACE exercise works so well is because it simulates the physical activity that is best suited for the human body genetically.
As Dr. Sears points out, our caveman ancestors never engaged in physical exercise just for the sake of physical exercise, instead, their exercise came simply from the demands of their lifestyle. Survival of the species demanded that they engage in hard labor like building shelter, evading predators, hunting, gathering, preparing food and making tools. Anytime they engaged in hard labor, it was always followed by rest and recovery.
Because this is the manner in which human beings lived for millions of years, Dr. Sears tells us that the need for this type of physical activity is “hardwired into our genes, ” through evolution. Furthermore, he tells us that we are genetically identical to our caveman ancestors, but our lifestyle has changed. Since we no longer have to endure the same types of living conditions that they did, we need to simulate a similar type of activity in our exercise routines to obtain optimal health and manage weight. Our caveman ancestors did not engage in long periods of continuous exertion like that found in aerobics or cardio, and we shouldn’t either. This type of exercise is actually perceived by the body as stress.
This is also where the fight or flight system developed, it was needed to give human beings energy and the ability to escape dangerous situations. When they would escape the predator, then the stress response system would shut off. Dr. Charles Gant tells us that if we imitate the physical activity of our caveman ancestors, by using short bursts of intensity followed by rest and recovery, then we can trick the brain into thinking we have escaped the predator and the sympathetic nervous system will turn off.
Benefits of Dr. Al Sears PACE Program
Immediately, in my first routine, I felt the PACE exercise was much more effective for relieving my stress and turning off the sympathetic nervous system. I felt much more relaxed and harmonious. This aspect alone made me fan instantly. This means that anyone with high levels of stress will find this form of exercise very beneficial. It also seemed to boost my mood and feelings of well-being better than my standard walk.
Additionally, within a week, I noticed that my belly was feeling a little flatter. I was impressed. Dr. Sears tells us that we don’t want to burn fat while we are exercising, we want it to occur after the exercise and that short bursts of exertion followed by rest and recovery activate this process. They kick-start our metabolism.
The greatest aspect is that I didn’t have to give up my daily walk. I just adjusted the way I walk so that it incorporates the principles of the PACE program. Instead of my standard walk, I would insert several bursts of power walking, followed by a slower stroll, then once I catch my breath and my heart rate normalizes I increase exertion back up to my normal stride. I added 2 or 3 short bursts of exertion because that is what my body can handle. I hope to insert more as progress.
The second greatest aspect is that no matter what level of health you are currently you can do the PACE program. You can start out with as little or as much exertion you are capable. PACE exercise can be done within any type of exercise you choose. It can be done with walking, bicycling, sprinting, knee bends, jogging, lifting weights, stationary bike, dancing, treadmill, etc. etc. Whatever method you prefer.
Personally, I prefer walking outside for my exercise routine and recommend it to others; because it allows me to commune with nature, thus fulfilling me spiritually, and it provides my daily dose of vitamin D from the sunshine.
If you are only capable of a few minutes of exercise, the PACE program can still work for you. You start out with whatever you’re body can handle and then progressively increase as you become stronger.
Some of the other benefits that are inherent in PACE exercise include losing weight easily, burning fat while you sleep, an aid in reversing and preventing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, improves lung strength and health, improves and protects heart health and better circulation.
What You’ll Find in the PACE Exercise Book
In Dr. Al Sears PACE program book, you’ll not only find a new approach to exercise, but he covers the science about how to exercise properly and goes into great detail about the type of diet that encourages optimal health and how to prevent or reverse insulin resistance. Going hand in hand with the principles of his exercise program, he tells us that once again we need to look to our caveman ancestors to see what kind of diet we should be eating.
The caveman diet, which includes animal protein, non-starchy vegetables, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds and fruits, are the foods we should be eating for optimal health. Grains, beans, potatoes and other starchy foods should be avoided or at least strictly limited. Eating a diet rich in animal protein and low in starchy carbohydrates will lower triglycerides and blood pressure, prevent testosterone and progesterone deficiency, lowers bad cholesterol and increases the good, prevents and reverses insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, increases antioxidants, improves the immune system, and much more.
So, in a nutshell, I honestly believe that everyone should read Dr. Al Sear’s PACE program book regardless of whether they do the exercise program or not. It’s a quick and easy read that is packed with invaluable life-changing information. It instantly became one of my all-time favorite books because of the vast amount of information it provided for a very decent price.