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Free radicals not bad? Now that's a radical proposition. According to Powers, free radicals have at least two important functions. First, they fight off invading infections. Second, they actually signal muscle cells to make adaptive changes to exercise. In other words, they play a key role in what we call "the training effect." Indeed, most exercise-produced free radicals never leave the muscles. They never get to the tissues and organs where they're known to do damage.The free radicals to worry about are the ones that infiltrate your body via environmental pollutants, such as ozone and cigarette smoke. Stay as far away from them as you can. And continue to fight them.