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How the Body Reacts to Physical Exercise


How the Body Reacts to Physical Exercise

When we exercise we are using our body in a totally different way to what we do in everyday life and as such the body responds differently. Here is a quick look at how different parts of your body respond to physical exercise.

Physical Exercise Infographic


During exercise, the heart works harder to provide your muscles with increased blood flow. To do this your heart will not only pump blood faster, raising your heart rate, but it will pump harder send more blood around the body with each beat. Regular exercise over a long period will result in a lower resting heart rate, which is one of many signs of good health.


Digestive system

The body is an efficient machine and during exercise it will put its energy into helping you continue. As a result, parts of the body which are not a priority such as the components of the digestive system will receive less blood, with the blood going to areas where it is needed most instead. This means that the digestive system will work minimally or even stop working during exercise.



During exercise, your body can require as much as fifteen times as much oxygen as a result you breathe harder and faster. Your lungs work harder to sustain the harder, faster breathing and your breathing rate will increase until the muscles surrounding your lungs cannot work any harder. A sign of good health is a high VO2 max – a measurement of how much oxygen your body can effectively use during exercise.


Adrenal gland

Homeostasis is the maintenance of a constant internal environment and it is the job of the nervous system. Homeostasis includes maintaining a body temperature of 37°C, controlling blood sugar and water levels. The adrenal gland plays a large part in trying to maintain homeostasis during exercise by releasing hormones such as cortisol, which controls glucose, blood pressure and acts as an anti-inflammatory agent.



When you exercise you muscles experience minor wear and tear which is easily healed. Typically, the small tears in your muscles caused by exercise will heal to be stronger than they initially were and the healing process will result in larger, stronger muscles.



When we exercise we sweat more, resulting in increased water loss. In order to compensate for the extra water loss and prevent dehydration, the kidneys can maximise water reabsorption. As the kidneys react to the water loss through sweat the amount by which they increase water reabsorption is dependent on the water loss you are experiencing which will be lesser in a colder environment or during less strenuous exercise.



The brain plays several vital and specific roles during exercise, with different parts of the brain fulfilling different roles.

One part of the brain used during exercise is the pituitary gland which releases growth hormones. These hormones instruct the body to increase muscles and tissue production which is beneficial for muscle repair and more.

Secondly, during exercise the hypothalamus is used to complete certain functions. The hypothalamus is the part of the brain which monitors body temperature and sends signals to the rest of the body to trigger effectors. During exercise one way the hypothalamus works is by making you sweat cooling the body as the sweat evaporates off your skin.

These responses occur as a reaction to a variety of exercises whether you are going for a jog, stepping on the treadmill, or hitting the gym. From obtaining a lower resting heart rate to increasing your muscle strength many of the body’s natural responses to exercise offer great health benefits and can be achieved through sustained, effective exercise from a regular run in the park to a rigorous regime in a home gym filled with high quality exercise equipment.

Content and infographic supplied by UK Gym Equipment.

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Chris has a forceful passion to drive and motivate fitness enthusiasts. An IT geek by trade, Chris’ devotion to health, fitness and bodybuilding drove him to become a key architect and benefactor for Bodybulk, aiming to instigate and inspire change to the fitness industry.

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