What a year! We’d like to send a massive shoutout to all of our network. Through a weird year we’ve managed to all work closely as a team and continue to improve the lives of claimants. Thank you!! Bring on 2021!
For a bit of fun we thought for our last blog we would share some exercise facts for you to enjoy and share with your family over the break. 🎁
Our Amazing Body
We often take the health and the successful function of our body for granted. We live inside this organic machine and go about our daily lives, with little thought as to how amazing it is that our organs sustain us, without any instruction from us!
Being a year of forced adaptation, we thought we would give attention to just how incredible it is that our body is at adapting and changing the way that it does when faced with a stimulus. Exercise is one of those stimuli that stimulates the magic of exercise (Ok… there’s a lot of science behind it, but the effect is magic!!!).
Here are 10 facts about the Cardiovascular System – and how it changes with exercise. Consider this blog a tribute to every body out there, for all that it is and all that it is capable of!
1. Your Heart Size
Your heart is approximately the size of your closed fist – but it can change in size! Just like any other muscle in the body, the heart can increase in size with regular exercise (known as hypertrophy), and can get smaller with the cessation of activity, such as during bed rest (atrophy).
2. Resting Heart Rate
An increase in heart size means that there is a higher volume of blood expelled each heartbeat. This is why athletes have a lower heart rate at rest – their hearts don’t have to pump as often to meet their blood flow requirements.
3. Is the Heart on the Left?
The heart sits slightly angled to the left hand side of the body – the left lung is slightly smaller than the right lung in order to allow space for the heart!
But, the left side of the heart is bigger than the right side of the heart – this is because the left side is responsible for sending blood around the whole body, while the right side of the heart only needs to send blood to the lungs. The left and right sides of the heart are completely separated by a wall of muscle – the blood contained in each side of the heart does not meet.
4. That’s A lot of Blood!
The heart beats roughly 5-6L of blood around the body every minute – that’s between 7,000 – 8,500 L being pumped out every day! (Over 800 bath tubs worth, to put it into perspective!)
5. And that’s a lot of Kilometers!
If your blood vessels were laid out in one continuous line, they would extend to around 100,000 km’s long – this is long enough to circle the earth 2.5 times.
6. When to Eat
During exercise, the way that the blood flow is distributed around the body changes compared to resting.
More blood is sent to the exercising muscles in order to ensure sufficient nutrients are being delivered where they are needed. Less blood goes to the organs, such as the digestive system.
This is why the old wives tale of waiting for half an hour after eating is valid – exercising too soon after eating disrupts the digestive process!
7. Create more blood vessels
With regular exercise, the number of small blood vessels (capillaries) around the muscles and lungs increases.
A higher density network of blood vessels means that more blood can be sent to the muscles, which facilitates nutrient and oxygen delivery and removal of CO2 and metabolic waste.
8. Increase Oxygen
Oxygen molecules travel within the blood by attaching to the hemoglobin molecules contained within the red blood cells.
With exercise training, more red blood cells are created and the carrying capacity increases – this means that oxygen delivery becomes more efficient!
9. Blood Pressure
Regular aerobic exercise prevents health conditions such as high blood pressure by keeping the blood vessels healthy, elastic, and more compliant.
This means that when blood is pumped out of the heart with each beat, the pressure change is minimised due to the stretch and recoil of the blood vessels.
10. The Lesser-Known Benefits of Aerobic Exercise
Powers the brain
Aerobic exercise also stimulates proteins and biochemicals that drive Neuroplasticity, forming new connections in the brain and strengthening learning.
Aerobic exercise stimulates hormones that neurotransmitters that improve mood, such as endorphins, serotonin and dopamine, just to mention a few.
Strengthens the Immune System
Aerobic exercise stimulates more defence cells in the immune system, and it also helps to relieve stress (which is associated with a weaker immune system).
There are so many cost-effective ways to get your cardio:
- Walk (especially up a hill)
- Swim (in the ocean)
- Cycle (free, if you already have a bike!)
Exercise is one of the best, if not THE best, ways to prime your body for longevity, and the cardiovascular system in particular is highly responsive to the positive stimulus applied during exercise training.
From all of us at Specialised Health – Have a safe and FUN Christmas and New Year’s break!
Author: Yolanda van Vugt (Exercise Physiologist Auckland, NZ) |Co-author: Biara Webster (Exercise Physiologist, Brisbane)