REAL, FRUGAL, HEALTHY, and FUN!!!
It’s Saturday again, and that means it’s time to share a little something from my studies. This week I’ve been learning about how the different body systems contribute and/or are affected by exercise. I found it particularly interesting to see how chronic (regular) exercise affects your body.
In the cardiorespiratory system, for example, one of the changes that occur is that blood volume typically increases. The increase in blood volume is primarily due to an increase in plasma. Having a higher plasma than red blood cell ratio is actually really good. It keeps the blood a little thinner, which means it can carry oxygen to the muscles faster. Another adaption is that a regular exercisers’ heart actually increases in size. The increased amount of work causes the left ventricle, in particular, to increase in size. It’s cavity gets bigger, and it’s walls get thicker. This actually improves the contracting force. Between the increased force and the increased blood volume, more blood is able to be pumped per minute. When a person exercises regularly, their body also becomes very efficient with its blood flow. The muscles are also able to receive blood flow better. The blood flow is more effectively redistributed to working muscles, by more efficiently directing it away from those muscles that are inactive. The muscles also get better at using oxygen and creating energy. It’s like the entire cardiorespiratory goes into hyper-drive, with every contributing component adapting to meet the needs of the individual and enabling them to push harder.
There are neuromuscular adaptions, as well. Regular exercise helps motor units learn to work together. With motor units working together, muscles are able to generate more force.
I’m sure you’re aware that hormones play a role in everything your body does. Well, with regular exercise, hormones are actually more relaxed and not as wild. Hormonal response is often reduced with regular exercise. It would seem that the body responds better and doesn’t need a hormonal party to get the necessary reactions. There is less epinepherine and norepinephrine released. As the heart adapts to regular exercise, excessive epinephrine and norepinephrine aren’t needed to stimulate it. Corisol levels do increase to preserve glucose. Insulin and glucagon levels become more consistent during exercise as they are during rest. Those who have a hard time regulating their blood sugar, therefore, could potentially benefit from regular exercise. Those who train in endurance don’t have a significant amount of growth hormone circulating in their blood. However, those who strength train will typically see an increase in growth hormone release. Another hormone that typically increases among strength training individuals is testosterone.
Regardless of whether an individual strength trains or endurance trains, the body will adapt in an effort to efficiently function and meet the needs of the training program. For example, at a cellular level, an individual who trains in endurance will become efficient in producing aerobic energy. On the other hand, those who strength train, at a cellular level will adapt in order to perform greater contracting force using anaerobic energy. In other words, your body will adapt based on the type of training you do.
Regular exercisers, both those who train aerobically and those who train anaerobically, are able to clear lactate out of their blood faster. Lactate is what gives you that intense muscle burn. Lactate is sometimes thought of as something that leads to the onset of muscle fatigue, but in actuality, it can be used to create energy. It’s true. Lactate can actually be transported to the liver and converted into glucose.
Ultimately, the more active you are, the more prepared for the activity your body becomes. While genetics do play a role in the functionality and fitness capabilities of your body, You are the driver. You are the machinist. You can make improvements. You can choose to be all that you are capable of being. Like, a machine, you can choose to let your body rust and fall apart, or you can choose to maintain it, make upgrades, polish it, oil it, and make it it’s best.