What are the short term effects of exercise?
We all know that we should exercise. Exercising has many key benefits, both short term and long term. In this article we’re going to discuss what the short term effects of exercise are and how they can positively impact both body and mind.
But to start with a couple of definitions.
Short term effects are anything that is noticeable within the first 24-36 hours of exercise.
And exercise well, we’re defining that as any activity that requires physical effort, used to promote health and general fitness.
In terms of areas that exercise impacts, we’re going to discuss the respiratory system, the cardiovascular system, the muscular system, the skeletal system, the endocrine system and your mental wellbeing.
Short term effects of exercise on the respiratory system
The respiratory system responds to physical activity by increasing the rate and depth of breathing to increase oxygen delivery and carbon dioxide removal.
The short term effects are as follows;
- The respiratory rate – number of breaths per minute increases during exercise
- Tidal volume – the volume of air inhaled per breath increases
- The rate of gaseous exchange increases
Short term effects of exercise on the cardiovascular system
The cardiovascular system responds to exercise by increasing blood flow to the working muscles to increase oxygen delivery and assist in carbon dioxide removal.
The short term effects are as follows;
- Heart rate – the number of beats per minute increases
- Stroke volume – the amount of blood pumped by the heart per contraction increases
- Cardiac output – the amount of blood pumped by the heart per minute increases
- Vasodilation – blood vessels leading to the working muscles expand to increase blood flow
- Vasoconstriction – blood vessels leading to the digestive system contract to prevent blood flow
- Blood vessels near the skin open to allow heat to escape.
Short term effects of exercise on the muscular system
During exercise, muscles require an increased supply of oxygen and glucose to create energy in the form of ATP.
The short term effects of exercise on the muscular system are as follows;
- Increased muscle contraction
- Carbon dioxide production increases
- Where oxygen is not available, lactic acid is produced
- Muscular fatigue occurs
- Muscle temperature increases
- Micro-tears in muscle fibres occur under strain
Short term effects of exercise on the endocrine system
Exercise boosts the number of hormones circulating in your body and strengthens receptor sites on target organ cells. Your endocrine response to exercise can improve organ function, physical appearance and your state of mind.
The short term effects of exercise on the endocrine system are;
- Glucagon and insulin – with greater demand from muscles for glucose in the blood, glucagon is secreted and insulin levels are suppressed to ensure blood glucose levels do not drop too low.
- Adrenaline – may be released to assist cardiac activity during exercise
- Endorphin – Endorphins block your sensitivity to pain and can reduce stress and anxiety to produce a feeling of euphoria
- Testosterone and growth hormone – libido and confidence may increase along with an increased ability to recover from the effects of exercise
Short term effects of exercise on the skeletal system
Short-term effects of exercise on the skeletal system include the start of bone remodelling and strengthening. Over time, bone strength and density increase, circulation of blood and synovial fluid improves, and your strength and range of motion increase. However, due to the time taken to enact change on bones, as opposed to a “quick” regulatory body response, most effects are longer term through sustained exercise. Short term changes are mostly linked to tissue recruitment around bones, i.e. tendons.
Short term effects of exercise on your mental wellbeing
Physical activity has a huge potential to enhance our wellbeing. Even a short burst of 10 minutes’ brisk walking increases mental alertness, energy and positive mood.
The short term effects of exercise on mental health can be:
- Positive impact on mood
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Improved self esteem
We are all encouraged to exercise, in whatever form that may be. Regardless of what exercise path you choose to take, hopefully this article draws some light on some of the key short term benefits of exercise. The most important thing however, is that you do so safely and do things you enjoy. There is no right or wrong, walking alone is a brilliant form of exercise and the health benefits are even more so when you commit to exercise for a longer duration. Regular exercise improves respiratory, skeletal, muscular and cardiovascular health, as well as the obvious mental health benefits, we, like almost all physicians and health professionals, would actively encourage regular exercise, not just for the short term, but for the long term benefits.