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When you looked at the title of this article, did you get the impression that the author did not recognize the proper use of hyphenation?  Why in the world would anyone hyphenate the word 'foxy'?  Well rest easy, there's a very good reason the author inserted the hyphen, to emphasize the latter part of the word, 'oxy'!  'Oxy' in ancient Greek meant 'sharp, swift, or keen.'  And in a little bit you will see how that ancient word root figures significantly into a hormone that influences the health and well-being of every human alive.  

In listening to Dr. Cabeca's teleconference entitled "Feel Good, Look Good Secrets", I was especially fascinated with the seven ways she outlined in which we as women can balance our hormones.  And I guess the idea that 7 as a number has mystical significance (the 'perfect'number) must have subconsciously influenced my choice to fixate upon the seventh point in her list of healthy hormone-balancing practices!  Her seventh point is, specifically, the importance of exercise to hormonal balance.  And somewhere right in the middle of her treatise on the benefits of exercise for women, she mentioned the release of the hormone oxytocin into the bloodstream as a benefit of exercise.  

Most women who have ever given birth were informed early on by nurses and lactation experts in the hospital about the importance of breast-feeding for maternal bonding and for the health and well-being of both mother and child, and were informed that oxytocin production both stimulates and is stimulated by lactation in a kind of cyclical fashion.  If you were one of those mothers who had enough leisure time every day to breastfeed (back when I gave birth my employer provided no breast-feeding rooms or extra breaks from work for that purpose), you can attest to the wonderful feelings of closeness and affection, relaxation, and general well-being you felt every time your child snuggled close to you and nursed.  

It wasn't until considerably later, though, when my children were nearly grown, that I began to encounter some writings on the subject of oxytocin that were not specifically related to childbirth and breastfeeding.  I began to read more about the far-reaching effects of this hormone and discovered that the derivation of the word is very likely from Greek, meaning 'swift birth.'  This corroborates my initial knowledge of the word, that it stimulates uterine contractions during labor and expression of milk during breast-feeding, and apparently for quite some years this is about all that was known about this hormone.  However, more recent writings indicate that although oxytocin is not an endorphin per se, when oxytocin is released by the posterior pituitary gland, that in turn stimulates the production of endorphins, the "feel-good" hormones of which most of us have already heard.  Males as well as females produce oxytocin, and it has beneficial effects in both sexes.  Some of its many documented benefits are feelings of connectedness and closeness to loved ones, lessening of cravings and addictions, increased sexual receptivity, facilitation of learning, faster wound healing, diminished sense of pain, lessened feelings of stress, lowered cortisol levels, and lowering of blood pressure.  So from what is now known about oxytocin, it is indeed very important to social interactions of all kinds and especially to close familial bonding including sexual.  So if you really do want to be 'foxy', then you should consider ways to produce more 'oxy'!  

And up until I heard Dr. Cabeca's teleconference, I was not aware that oxytocin was generated through exercise.  Of course we all know that endorphins are a beneficial byproduct of exercise.  However, I wonder how many of us know that powerful feelings of closeness and bonding to our families, our co-workers, our fellow human beings, and the universe in general are byproducts of exercise as well, due to that 'foxy oxy' that we are manufacturing as we exercise!  I certainly was not aware of this fact until now, but now that I think about it, when I am exercising regularly, I do find that some very good things are facilitated, more so than when I am not exercising!  Although I knew this in a very general sense to be true, I find it fascinating that oxytocin is one spoke in the wheel of life, the one that starts turning with our birth and continues throughout life as we relate to all other living things in a continuous cycle.  Of course movement is another spoke in the wheel and one phase of our continuous journey through the universe.  We are not still and static beings, and exercise in a sense "shakes up" and activates the release of oxytocin, which in turn energizes us to move even more, in all kinds of healthy and loving ways!

Ever since physical education classes in 7th grade (square dance class was my favorite) I have known that getting up and moving is healthy and beneficial.  Apparently dancing, running, and other forms of "bouncing" exercise release more oxytocin than other milder forms of exercise.  Long-distance marathon runners have the ability to run through pain largely due to the pain-mitigating effects of the oxytocin which is continuously being released into their systems.  

So, shake it up, Baby!  If you want to be foxy, shake up your oxy!  You know it feels good, so get up and dance to the music.  In my case, I make sure no one is watching because my rhythm is terrible, but I dance anyway.  If you have a sedentary job, make the time to get up, go someplace where you feel good, and make that body move – because your oxytocin will thank you for it!




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