Homeostasis: In fitness or in Wellness a positive or a negative?
What is homeostasis:
is the property of a system that regulates its internal environment and tends to maintain a stable, relatively constant condition of properties such as temperature or pH. It can be either an open or closed system. In simple terms, it is a process in which the body’s internal environment is kept stable.
With regard to any given life system an organism may be a conformer or a regulator. Regulators try to maintain parameters at a constant level over possibly wide ambient environmental variations. Conformers allow the environment to determine parameters. For instance, endothermic animals (mammals and birds) maintain a constant body temperature, while ectothermic animals (almost all other organisms) exhibit wide body temperature variation.
An advantage of homeostatic regulation is that it allows an organism to function effectively in a broad range of environmental conditions. For example, ectotherms tend to become sluggish at low temperatures, whereas a co-located endotherm may be fully active. That thermal stability comes at a price since an automatic regulation system requires additional energy. One reason snakes may eat only once a week is that they use much less energy to maintain homeostasis
Diseases that result from a homeostatic imbalance include diabetes, dehydration, hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, gout, and any disease caused by a toxin present in the bloodstream. All of these conditions result from the presence of an increased amount of a particular substance. In ideal circumstances, homeostatic control mechanisms should prevent this imbalance from occurring, but, in some people, the mechanisms do not work efficiently enough or the quantity of the substance exceeds the levels at which it can be managed. In these cases, medical intervention is necessary to restore the balance, or permanent damage to the organs may result.
According to the following citation, every illness has aspects to it that are a result of lost homeostasis:
“Just as we live in a constantly changing world, so do the cells and tissues survive in a constantly changing microenvironment. The ‘normal’ or ‘physiologic’ state then is achieved by adaptive responses to the ebb and flow of various stimuli permitting the cells and tissues to adapt and to live in harmony within their microenvironment. Thus, homeostasis is preserved. It is only when the stimuli become more severe, or the response of the organism breaks down, that disease results – a generalization as true for the whole organism as it is for the individual cell.”
Sociologists and psychologists may refer to stress homeostasis, the tendency of a population or an individual to stay at a certain level of stress, often generating artificial stresses if the “natural” level of stress is not enough
Author George Leonard discusses in his book Mastery how homeostasis affects our behavior and who we are. He states that homeostasis will prevent our body from making drastic changes and maintain stability in our lives even if it is detrimental to us. Examples include when an obese person starts exercising, homeostasis in the body resists the activity to maintain stability. Another example Leonard uses is an unstable family where the father has been a raging alcoholic and suddenly stops and the son starts up a drug habit to maintain stability in the family. Homeostasis is the main factor that stops people changing their habits because our bodies view change as dangerous unless it is very slow. Leonard discusses this dilemma as the media today only encourages fast change and quick results. The opening of his book aptly describes his despair with the current state of the world and how it is at war with homeostasis. “The trouble is that we have few, if any, maps to guide us on the journey or even to show us how to find the path. The modern world, in fact, can be viewed as a prodigious conspiracy against mastery. We’re continually bombarded with the promises of immediate gratification, instant success, and fast, temporary relief, all of which lead in exactly the wrong direction.”
So the answer to what we think of homeostasis is really in the question and the context surrounding the question:
If we are addressing fitness and body performance: homeostasis is often a plateau and will not result in peak performance. However stage training indicates that finding new levels of homeostasis are key to allow for repair, acclimation and improved performance.
If the issues are psychological, emotional or personal: homeostasis tends to be a positive feature if the key characteristic promote overall health; alternatively if the key components to the “balance” are negative but have been absorbed as “normal” the negative influence may continue to prevail and thus be a detriment to the individual.