Health & Fitness

Exercise Changes The Heart And Body


The human heart is such an amazing organ. It beats about 100,000 times per day which translates to approximately 35 million beats per year and about 2.5 billion beats in the average lifetime. Relative to its size, the heart packs quite the punch. Exercise changes the heart and body. When we exercise, we further increase the demands placed upon the heart. There are some amazing adjustments that the cardiovascular system and heart make when you go from a resting state all the way up to a state of intense exercise. Amazing adaptations occur within the heart when you continue to exercise. The number and the changes will astound you. Read about the relation of exercise with brain power

You have an artery the size of a garden hose

The human heart is a pump and its main job is to pump blood to the tissues of the body. If we look closely at the structure of the heart, the left ventricle is the most powerful chamber of the heart. Its wall is very thick and it pumps blood throughout the body. The left ventricle pumps blood through Aorta.

Human Heart
Human Heart

Aorta has elastic recoil and is the size of a garden hose. It is the largest artery in the human body. Arteries take the blood away from the heart and the aorta is going to have multiple branches of other arteries coming off it to deliver the blood to the head and neck, the arms and legs.

How much blood do exercising muscles need?

If we were to take a muscle at rest and look at the average blood flow, we would see that it was about three to four milliliters per minute per 100 grams of muscle tissue. When we exercise, that can be up to 200 milliliters per minute in that same 100 grams of muscle tissue. Now if that does not surprise you, scientists have actually measured in the quadriceps of elite marathon runners of up to 400 milliliters per minute in that same 100 grams of muscle tissue. The body performs three circulatory adjustments to accommodate or to increase this blood supply.

One is an increase in cardiac output. The second is the vasoconstriction of peripheral arterials. Thrid is a forceful contraction of walls in a lot of veins throughout the body.

How much blood the heart can pump during exercise?

Cardiac output is the amount of blood pumped out of the heart in one minute. There are two main factors that influence cardiac output. One is the heart rate or the number of heartbeats per minute. The second is stroke volume. Stroke volume is the amount or the volume of blood pumped out during each heartbeat and both of these will increase during exercise. Most of us have a pretty good idea that when we go running around and exercise, our heart rate will go up. During intense exercise, we can see heart rate close to 200 beats per minute. The volume of blood pumped out of the ventricle will increase during exercise. A healthy adult male has a cardiac output of about 5.6 liters of blood per minute during rest. Females of similar age would have about 4.9 liters per minute. During exercise, let’s say we took a person who has a normally functioning heart but is not exercising consistently. That person’s heart could go about 13 to 15 liters per minute during exercise.


On the other hand, when we talk about those people who are consistently exercising and training for marathons and elite athletes, we can see cardiac output up from 30 to 40 liter per minute. These are amazing adaptations the heart can do when we consistently challenge it and exercise it through consistent activity.

How much can the heart adapt with consistent exercise?

Cardiovascular adjustments occur in the actual moment of exercise. The myocardium is the heart muscle that is going to pump the blood. In elite athletes, scientists have seen increases in the myocardial mass of up to 50 to 70%. So, the ventricle is definitely going to get thicker and stronger. Let’s say you started training for a marathon or a half marathon and in the initial stages of training, you get to a certain pace and you stay at this steady pace and your heart rate is at 165 beats per minute. Over time ass you get into a better shape or your myocardium gets a little bit bigger and stronger. Maybe at the same pace, your heart rate might start going down to 155 beats per minute. That’s because when the heart muscle is stronger, that increases the stroke volume. So, each beat is more efficient and pumps out more blood per beat. That’s also why people who are training tend to start seeing a decrease in their resting heart rate. Instead of 60 beats per minute needed to get a certain amount of blood out, you might need only 55 or 50 after you have trained longer and you have had a more efficient heart.

Exercise makes you feel happier

Exercise improves your mood and decreases feelings of depression and stress. Endorphins help to produce positive feelings and reduce the perception of pain. Regular exercise increases the level of endorphins in your body. Other than endorphins, some other chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine are also released when you work out.

Exercise reduces the risk of chronic disease

If you have a chronic condition, regular exercise can help you manage symptoms and improve your physical health. Aerobic exercise is much helpful in this case. Regular exercise can reduce the risk of chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes and cancer.

Exercise can improve the skin health

Regular exercise is one of the keys to healthy skin. By increasing the blood flow, exercise helps nourish the skin cells and keep them vital. Dermatologists believe that with just 30 minutes of aerobic exercise each day, you may just start looking younger. Aerobic exercise makes you sweat and promotes the removal of toxins through perspiration.

Exercise improves the sleep quality

Moderate-to-vigorous exercise reduces the sleep onset and increases the quality of sleep. You can be flexible with the kind of exercise you choose. Both stretching and resistance exercise improves the sleep pattern for people suffering from Insomnia

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