“Use it or lose it”, and “JUST DO IT” are two of the most telling sayings that I know, by Dr. Vincent Bellonzi.
Cochlear implants are demonstrating the plasticity of the nervous system click here for story. It seems that if you use nerves by being physically or mentally more active the nervous system responds. Sometimes extra electrical stimulation is added such as in this study. However the stimulation of adaptation through use is a very powerful force. When nerves are used there is more trophic flow. The nerve pathways utilized turn into freeways as the nerve literally develops. The nerves grow larger and develop better myelin and are able to transmit much better and more consistent signals. This is how we learn, by improving nerve structure with use. There are numerous studies with stroke patients where new nerves are formed and the body can compensate as well as rebuild. Muscles of course are plastic growing in size and increasing their power. There is also improvement of tendons and ligaments. Bones actually structurally improve. Most important energy production goes up with use as mitochondria enlarge in capacity and actual size, even increasing in their number. Human organs improve with use as well.
Without use degeneration occurs. The body accelerates aging. Yes the body can be overwhelmed with too much of anything; However using the body slows and addresses that aging process. For example the current theory of aging is damage occurring from REDOX reactions, or what are commonly referred to as free radicals. That is why the concept of anti-oxidants is popular for supplements. The best antioxidants though, come from the body itself, compounds like glutathione and SOD. The fact is, I make free radicals which could damage or “AGE” me when I exercise. If you look at the big picture though, when I exercise, my body makes these antioxidants to compensate, usually a higher quantity than I needed for the free radical compensation. Nature already figured it out!