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What Happens in Your Body When You Exercise?
The featured article in Huffington Post highlights a number of biological effects that occur, from head to toe, when you exercise. This includes changes in your:
- Muscles, which use glucose and ATP for contraction and movement. To create more ATP, your body needs extra oxygen, so breathing increases and your heart starts pumping more blood to your muscles.
Without sufficient oxygen, lactic acid will form instead. Tiny tears in your muscles make them grow bigger and stronger as they heal.
- Lungs. As your muscles call for more oxygen (as much as 15 times more oxygen than when you’re at rest), your breathing rate increases. Once the muscles surrounding your lungs cannot move any faster, you’ve reached what’s called your VO2 max—your maximum capacity of oxygen use. The higher your VO2 max, the fitter you are.
- Heart. As mentioned, your heart rate increases with physical activity to supply more oxygenated blood to your muscles. The fitter you are, the more efficiently your heart can do this, allowing you to work out longer and harder. As a side effect, this increased efficiency will also reduce yourresting heart rate. Your blood pressure will also decrease as a result of new blood vessels forming.
- Brain. The increased blood flow also benefits your brain, allowing it to almost immediately function better. As a result, you tend to feel more focused after a workout. Furthermore, exercising regularly will promote the growth of new brain cells. In your hippocampus, these new brain cells help boost memory and learning. As stated in the featured article:“When you work out regularly, your brain gets used to this frequent surge of blood and adapts by turning certain genes on or off. Many of these changes boost brain cell function and protect from diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or even stroke, and ward off age-related decline.”
- More and more studies are showing that exercise can boost your intelligence and mental acuity, with brain benefits for grade-schoolers all the way up to working adults and seniors.
- Regular exercise can improve test scores, IQ levels and task efficiency.
- Exercise can offer unique benefits for your brain health and may even help your brain to grow as you get older, rather than shrink.
- Exercise also encourages your brain to work at optimum capacity by causing your nerve cells to multiply, strengthening their interconnections, and protecting them from damage
- Unexpected side effects of exercise include improved sexual function, changes in gene expression, clearer skin, and improved mood and sleep
- Research shows that the “secret” to increased productivity and happiness on any given day is a long-term investment in regular exercise.