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What Happens to Your Body During Exercise?

Exercising has both immediate and long-term effects on the body. We know the later effects of continued exercise, such as weight loss and greater muscle definition, but what's going on while you train? Keep reading to find out.

Over time, regular exercise can lead to several benefits including weight loss, reduced risk for heart attack and stroke, improved sleep and stronger joints and muscles. But there are several different actions occurring within the body during exercise that impact how you feel throughout your training session and in the hours after.

So, we wanted to know: What really happens to your body while you're exercising? To start with, these 10 things:

1. Your muscles tear.
When you train, your muscles develop microscopic tears in the tissue. While this sounds traumatic, when those tears heal, the muscles become stronger and larger in size.

2. Your demand for oxygen increases.
All of the vital organs and tissues of the body (AKA the muscles) need oxygen to remain healthy. When the body is being taxed by exercise, your breathing rate increases until you reach your VO2 max, which is the maximum amount of oxygen your lungs can take in. The higher the amount the better.

3. Your heart rate speeds up.
To help bring oxygen-rich blood to all the muscles, your heart will start beating faster. While keeping it elevated during exercise is a good thing to help burn calories, the less drastically it rises is better for endurance.

4. Your blood circulation increases.
As the muscles burn through ATP, they demand more oxygen to produce more ATP instead of lactic acid. As your heart rate speeds up, extra blood circulates to the muscles and vital organs to maintain proper function. The blood vessels within the skin will also dilate, which is why you appear flushed with exertion.

5. Your hormones kick in.
Hormones like cortisol and adrenaline are released by the adrenal glands to help the body produce more fuel for exercise and with endurance.

6. Your digestive system is neglected.
Less blood flows to the stomach and intestines during exercise because the body isn't focused on exercising. This would explain any digestive issues you may experience while working out. The best thing to do is to eat a balanced meal about an hour before you begin training.

7. Your brain gets happy.
Exercising has significant effects on the brain. Endorphins, GABA, serotonin and dopamine are released which can positively benefit your mood. Bottom line: If you don't feel like working out, chances are you'll feel much better after.

8. You sweat.
Another way exercise impacts the brain is through the hypothalamus, which is responsible for keeping the body at the ideal temperature. As your body gets warmer and warmer, this gland triggers sweat production to bring the temperature back down.

9. The joints are strained.
Repeated exercise will put strain on the joints resulting in the gradual breakdown of the tissues and fluids that keep them flexible and pain free. Keep your joints healthy with supplements like glucosamine, MSM and chondroitin.

10. Your bones strengthen.
While your joints may be taxed during exercise, working out actually helps keep the bones strong and helps prevent loss of density. Exercises that are weight bearing, like aerobics, walking, hiking and even dancing, are best for the bones.

Making sure to eat properly before and after training, hydrate throughout and allow ample rest time for muscle recovery will help counteract any potentially negative effects and allow you to keep training.

For more of the latest health and nutrition information, check back tomorrow. Stay well!


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