The Benefits of Exercising
What can exercise do for me?
Exercise does more then reduce weight, it can improve both our health
and fitness, and should involve using as much of the body as possible.
Exercise has two main benefits:
v Short term these are the effects that happen during the activity
itself and also contribute to the long term benefits e.g. the heart
rate will increase, which will increase the flow and pressure of the
v Long term these are the lasting effects which occur and include the
o Heart becomes bigger, stronger and capable of pumping more blood.
o Lungs get more oxygen to the muscles.
o Blood volume increases, therefore more oxygen can be carried.
o Muscles increase in size and strength, this is called muscle
hypertrophy. The muscle energy stores are also improved. This allows
the muscle to work harder and longer.
The cardio-vascular system, which is made up of two parts; the heart
and the blood vessels, can be improved after just a few weeks of
aerobic exercise. The heart responds in the same way as other muscles.
This means it will get bigger and stronger, so it can pump more blood
with each beat. When the body is at rest, the heart rate is lower, as
the heart can pump the same amount of blood with fewer beats.
As the bodily systems improve with exercise the amount of oxygen the
body needs will increase. This is provided by the lungs which also
improve during exercise. The main benefits of exercise on the
respiratory system are:
v The muscles around the ribs become more efficient, making breathing
v The amount of air the lungs can take in will increase.
v Because the surface area of the lungs has increased, more oxygen can
be transferred from the air in the lungs to the blood capillaries.
So if I exercise properly does this mean I will win a marathon?
No, however much we exercise, some people are born better marathon
runners then others. No matter what your build is or how much stamina
you have got, if you don’t have the right type of muscle fibres then
the chances of you become a world class runner are extremely slim.
Muscle tissue is composed of muscle fibres that contain two main fibre
types, which contract at different speeds, fast twitch fibres which
contract quickly and powerfully but fatigue quickly and slow twitch
fibres which contract slowly and can keep going for a long time
without getting fatigued. Most people will tend to have a balance of
about 50% of these two types of fibres in their muscle. Experiments
have shown that long distance runners tend to have a higher percentage
of slow twitch fibres (74%) in their calf muscles.
One of the main limiting factors to how fast you can run is the amount
of oxygen you can get to your muscles. Oxygen is needed for your