Greetings, dear readers
Being active can range from performing stretches whilst seated at a desk to taking part in an enthusiastic Zumba class, from climbing a flight of stairs to long work-out sessions at the gym. Though they may differ from one person to another, activity levels can change once an individual begins to challenge themselves physically. More often than not, age and health go hand-in-hand when it comes to determining what each person is capable of achieving in terms of their range of movement and energy expenditure. However, amongst health professionals, it is universally agreed that controlled activity is good for general well-being.
Inactivity, like its more positive counterpart, affects every system and structure in the body due to the fact that they are all interconnected. Most people know that some bodily systems, such as the respiratory and circulatory systems, are influenced by activity. Its effect on structures, such as the joints and bones, are often less commonly acknowledged by the majority. Activity has a significant impact on other internal organs and tissues, including the muscles, skin cells and those belonging to the digestive and immune systems. But what kind of movement is needed to trigger such profound changes in the body?
Aerobic training, consisting of any exercise that causes the heart to beat faster and the lungs to inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide at a greater rate, strengthens both the respiratory and circulatory systems. Once its pulse reaches a certain number of strokes per minute, dependant on age, sex and over-all fitness levels, the body begins to produce more blood cells than usual and has no choice but to expand in order to accommodate them via a process known as capillarisation. Capillarisation increases the amount of capillaries or capillary density in both the muscles and around the air sacs or alveoli in the lungs, allowing the transportation of extra oxygen and nutrients around the body. Exercise can cause arteries to grow and become more stretchy, leading to reduced blood pressure, and can make the diaphragm and intercostal muscles stronger, resulting in increased space in the chest cavity. This allows the lungs more room to expand and draw in larger amounts of air with every breath.
Improved lung function, along with movement, often has a heavy influence on the muscular system. When combined with glucose, oxygen creates energy that is used by the muscles and prevents them from wasting away due to either atrophy or dystrophy. Increased levels of mitochondria and myoglobin within muscle tissues, as a result of activity, allow it to store excess oxygen, glycogen and lipids, all of which play a part in the body’s production of energy. Strenuous exercise promotes muscle thickening or hypertrophy, reducing the need to expend as much energy in order for it to function, and causes the muscle fibres to become stronger and more flexible over time.
Joints, especially synovial joints, also benefit from movement, which aids the circulation of synovial fluid secreted by its membranous capsule and prevents it from drying up. Without it, joints such as the knees and shoulders miss out on vital nutrition, reduced stiffness, improved flexibility and strengthening of the ligaments, tendons and muscles that stabilise its position in the body. Activities such as jumping, and those that have a heavier impact on the bones, often lead to the formation of tiny fractures, which heal repeatedly to improve bone strength, density and quality.
Bone function can be further improved by increased blood supply, leading to the production of red and white blood cells and plasma needed by the immune system. Controlled damage to the bones and muscles, attained during physical training, stimulates the immune response and makes it more efficient when closing up wounds and fighting infections. Exercise also prompts the production of effective energy enzymes, leading to better and faster digestion of food. Better metabolism aids bowel movement and can make passing stools easier. In addition to this, the body burns more calories and body fat when moving, as opposed to when it remains stationary. Due to these improvements of the immune and digestive systems, skin cells are usually rejuvenated by the resulting amounts of oxygen, quality nutrients and quicker removal of lingering cellular waste, causing the skin to seem less exhausted and healthier than before.
We hope that this information has benefitted you, our dear readers, and we would love to hear from you. Comments, questions and weekly topic suggestions are always welcomed and greatly appreciated.
Thank you for reading!
The Pure Therapy Team