Physiological Effects of Physical Activity

Physiological Effects of Physical Activity
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  • 0:01 Your Body & Physical Activity
  • 0:34 Respiratory Changes
  • 1:11 Cardiovascular Changes
  • 1:36 Musculoskeletal Changes
  • 2:08 Cognitive Changes
  • 2:32 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Frequent challenging physical activity does a body good. This lesson will discuss the ways that the body adapts to physical activity and the physiological changes that come from it. We will end with a brief quiz to see what you have learned.

Your Body and Physical Activity

How often do you feel out of breath during physical activity? Most people find themselves breathing heavily when they climb stairs or walk briskly. If you exercise regularly, you might find these types of activities less challenging. This is an indication of physical fitness.

Very generally speaking, the more frequent and intense the exercise, the greater the level of physical fitness. Let's take a closer look at what happens in the body during exercise to understand its long term effects on overall health and wellness.

Respiratory Changes

We mentioned that out-of-breath feeling that sometimes occurs with exercise and other strenuous activity. This is caused by an increase in the body's need for oxygen. Oxygen is a colorless and odorless gas that is in the air and required to sustain life.

The lungs take oxygen from the air and carry it to other parts of the body. During periods of physical activity, the body requires more oxygen than during times of rest. This creates an increased workload for the lungs, and over time, they get stronger and better. This is where the heavy breathing comes from. So, where does all of that oxygen go?

Cardiovascular Changes

The heart and blood vessels work together to transport the extra oxygen to the muscles in the body. To do this, the heart works harder than it would during times of rest. It beats faster and uses more force to send the oxygen and other vital nutrients and hormones through the bloodstream. This increases blood pressure and makes the heart stronger over time. Now let's discuss why the muscles need that oxygen so desperately.

Musculoskeletal Changes

Take a moment to flex the muscles in your arms. Do they feel tight and firm or do they feel loose and flabby? If you exercise regularly, they probably feel firm because exercise increases muscle tone. During strenuous exercise, the muscles use more than twice the amount of oxygen they do during restful periods.

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