what happens to your body when you exercise?

exercise changes you.

Neuroscientist Judy Cameron, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Tommy Boone, Ph.D., a board certified exercise physiologist, and Edward Laskowski, M.D., co-director of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center take us through what happens in the body when we exercise.

Increased blood flow during exercise benefits the brain: brain cells function at a higher level, increasing alertness, focus and awakeness. This may be neuroprotective. Neurotransmitters are released: endorphins (“runners high”), dopamine and glutamate (smooth, co-ordinated movements), GABA (slow), seratonin (mood). Exercise facilitates brain cell growth in hypocampus (memory, learning),

Muscles use glucose and ATP for the energy required to contract and create movement. When there isn’t enough oxygen to create ATP, lactic acid is formed. Tiny tears form from exercise that encourages muscle growth and strength as they heal.

Lungs need up to 15x more oxygen when you exercise. Your breathing rate will increase until the muscles surrounding the lungs just can’t move any faster (named “maximum VO2 capacity”).

The diaphragm (a muscle!) can fatigue (side stitch!). Practice deep breathing (pranayama!) and stretching (yoga!) to  alleviate the discomfort.

Heart rate increases to quickly circulate more oxygen. This becomes more efficient with exercise experience, so you can work out harder and longer (lowers resting heart rate). Exercise increases new blood vessel growth (decreases blood pressure).

Movement and absorption in stomach and intestines is paused during exercise because oxygen is diverted to the muscles.

After exercise, the kidneys allow more protein into the urine and trigger water reabsorption… keeping you as hydrated as possible. Cortisol is released to help energy stores turn into fuel for the body. Adrenaline increases heart rate to deliver blood to muscles.

The blood vessels in the skin dilate, increasing blood flow to the skin. The heat then dissipates through the skin into the air. Sweat glands produce perspiration (water+s alt+electrolytes and/or odor-causing) onto the skin’s surface. When this sweat evaporates into the air, your body temp drops.

Capillaries in the face dilate to release heat = red face!

Joints take 5-6 six times more than your bodyweight during exercise. This can cause wear and tear on the cushioning tissue (cartilage), soft tissue and lubricating fluid.

… 10+ more reasons to “do your body good” and get moving! much love.

other resources:

Sarah Klein, Sept 4/13 Huffinton Post Healthy Living


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