Exercise is Medicine – Part 2: How Exercise Affects Internal & External Body Function

In my previous post, I highlighted how exercise is medicine for your body, and how it can improve your overall health and wellbeing, as well as your mood, attitude and self confidence. In this follow up post I want to dive into how the 3 forms of exercise (aerobic, resistance, flexibility) actually affect your muscles and organ functions, and how those functions, performed in unison, help you to lose weight, get stronger, increase flexibility and build endurance.

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise activities include: running, biking, walking, swimming, tennis, etc.

Aerobic exercise is responsible for increasing your muscular endurance…meaning it will increase how long your body can remain in motion without feeling exhausted.

Your body responds to aerobic exercise by increasing breathing (faster and more deeply), which then increases the amount of oxygen into your blood stream, as well as increasing the rate at which your heart beats, which increases the blood flow throughout your body. Your heart will pump this freshly oxygenated blood throughout your body, into your muscles and organs. As your body builds internal heat through breathing, the wheels of detox are put into motion, and the body begins to naturally detox itself through increased organ function.

Aerobic exercise is responsible for increasing your muscular endurance…meaning it will increase how long your body can remain in motion without feeling exhausted.

Resistance Exercise

Resistance exercise activities include: lifting weights (bench press, squats), bodyweight (pushups, crunches), plyometrics (box jumps, jump squats)

Resistance exercise is responsible for increasing your muscle strength and efficiency….it makes your stronger, as well as improving the motor skills (coordination) of your muscles.

Your body responds to resistance exercise in two ways:

First, by altering the way the nervous system interacts with the muscles in your body. Your nervous system sends increased electrical pulses to your muscles motor units, which increases the efficiency with which your muscles contract and release.

Second, by increasing the size and strength of your muscles. To do this, your muscles must be pushed past their normal everyday limits. This is where lifting weights can increase your muscle size and eventually sculpt your body. As you lift weights repeatedly your muscle fibers are micro-tearing (totally normal)…after your workouts the torn muscle fibers begin to repair themselves, as they heal back they grow stronger and larger than previous.

Flexibility Exercise

Flexibility exercise includes activities such as: yoga, pilates, tai chi, Range of Motion (ROM) therapy

Flexibility exercise is responsible for increasing your muscle elasticity and joint range of motion, which then increases your flexibility.

Your body responds to flexibility exercise by lengthening muscle and connective tissues. However, stretching is a process in which each step aids the next. For instance, proper breathing during stretching is very important, as it creates internal heat within the body causing your muscles to get warm and become more pliable. Moving into various stretches will cause the body to produce synovial fluid, which lubricates the skeletal system, as well as tendons and ligaments, which then increases your range of motion. These actions, performed everyday, will increase your overall flexibility and range of motion.

Stretching often takes a the backseat when it comes to your exercise routine. However, as you age, your muscles lose elasticity, making you more susceptible to injury, stiffness and loss of balance. This is why flexibility exercise should be taken seriously, and deemed as high importance in your exercise routine.

* It’s important to note, I do not advise using deep stretching as a warm up before your exercise routine. I DO recommend stretching within 15 minutes after your completing your aerobic and/or resistance training workout.

Your Body: A Lean, Mean, Healing Machine

Your body was designed for exertion ..and, as you can see, physical activity is a necessary component for starting proper organ function. Exercise puts the wheels in motion for your body to build, repair, detox and strengthen itself. No pills required….just a consistent dose of exercise.

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