You’ve always been told that exercising is good for you, therefore you should do it. What exercising does for you is among the most important things in your life to maintain a healthy body and an even healthier life. But do you know what really goes on in your body when you work out and why it is so good for you? We’re breaking it down from head to toe to spread a little knowledge about what goes on in that body of yours while you are putting in some work!
Exercising is just as good and important for your brain as it is for the rest of your body. As you work out, your brain not only fights against shrinkage and diseases such as Alzheimer’s, but it actually improves cognitive abilities such as your memory and ability to learn. In fact, the increase in blood flow during a workout stimulates your brain to function better, even making you feel more focused after the workout.
During exercise, your brain is encouraged to work to its capacity, resulting in it even building new brain cells. The growth of new neurons creates new muscle cells that help protect your brain from damage that can be caused by a hit in the head, a sip of alcohol, or simply the effect of aging.
Aside from the long-term benefits of preventing brain decay and boosting your memory, your brain also releases endorphins, which are a great contributor to your overall mood. In fact, exercise is a known prescription to treat depression.
As your beating heart becomes very apparent the minute you break into some cardio, your heart is a big benefactor when it comes to working out. As you begin to exercise, your heart rate increases due to your skeletal muscles contracting and thus forcing blood towards your heart. As you continue to exercise over time and make it a part of your routine, your heart’s muscles will become stronger and be able to pump blood throughout your body more efficiently, as well as help control your blood pressure. In the interim, it will improve your existing resting heart rate and let you recover quickly and reach your resting heart rate more easily after a workout.
On average, your lungs breathe in and out about 25 times per minute while resting. But during exercise your lungs need to work that much harder to give you the oxygen you need and desire to keep on pushing. As you work out, your breathing rate increases and your desired oxygen amount increases by about 15 times! In order for your lungs to keep up, your chest cavity (rib cage) increases to allow more air to fill up in your lungs. Then once it reaches its capacity, your diaphragm tightens and your lungs release the air. Aside from the increase in air, your vessels also increase their blood volume to your lungs, allowing more oxygen to be absorbed for your heart.
When you begin to work out, your muscles are being worked and resisted against their norm. When your muscles reach a point of resistance (such as a squat, lifting a weight, or doing a pushup), your muscles’ tissues get tiny, microscopic tears in them. While this may seem like something you don’t want to happen, it is actually a good thing! These tiny tears in your tissues occur so that there is more room for your muscles to develop and get bigger. Hence that sore feeling you get after a workout. While there are tiny tears in your muscles, new cells are formed and fused to your muscle fibers, creating protein strands. Thus, your muscles may soon visibly look bigger and you will feel and become stronger.
During exercise (such as walking or jogging), your bones experience a large force and impact as your feet hit the ground, equating to about 15 times your body weight. As a result, your shin bone slightly shortens. But, your body recognizes these changes and counteracts that by growing in size to reduce the risk of breaking upon impact. Therefore, a sprinter can have shin bones that are up to 40% wider than an average person who does not exercise. This is why it is important for you to make exercise an important part of your life from early on. In fact, starting physical activity at a young age gives you larger and stronger bones that can last up to decades, making them less likely to break, even when you are less active at an older age.