Long Term Effects of Exercise

Mike Dye

Cardiovascular System

The heart muscle is vital for life and as you continuously work the heart muscle over a period of months and years, cardiac hypertrophy occurs, which is where the heart muscle increases in size and strength. This occurs by the heart muscle responding to the workload during exercise, causing the response to be the heart to thicken, hence become stronger to allow more blood to be pumped around the body.


Another long term effect on the CV system is capillarisation, where the number of capillaries increase around the body (specifically the muscles). This is great for the body during exercise as when you work, you can go on for an extended period of time due to the muscles being supplied with more oxygen and nutrients through the extra blood vessels, also carbon dioxide can be taken out of the body at an increased rate, avoiding quick fatigue.


Stroke volume and cardiac output will both increase. As the heart becomes stronger, it can pump more blood per beat (stroke volume) to the working muscles to supply them with more oxygen and nutrients to allow the body to work for a long period of time. Also, this helps cardiac output, with the heart being able to beat more blood per beat out, it means more blood per minute is released from the heart, again, allowing more blood to be transported to the muscles where oxygen and nutrients can be provided to them to allow the body to work for an extended period of time.

Respiratory System

Similar to the cardiovascular system, capillarisation also benefits the respiratory system. Long term exercise causes capillary numbers to increase around the alveoli, which allows more oxygen and nutrients to be diffused into the blood stream, to be transported to the working muscles to allow us to work for longer. It also helps diffuse more carbon dioxide out of the body quicker, again, allowing you to tire less quickly, as waste products are being released from the body.


Another effect on the respiratory system from long term exercise is increase minute ventilation. As you keep training your body regularly, your lungs and diaphragm become stronger, which allows you to inhale more oxygen and exhale more carbon dioxide. With more oxygen in the body, the cells in the muscle can create ATP which will power the muscles and allow you to exercise for a longer period of time. Additionally, by being able to breathe out more carbon dioxide, lactic acid cannot form as quickly, causing you to, again, be able to exercise for an extended period of time.

Muscular System

One effect long term exercise has on the muscular system is muscular hypertropthy and hyperplasia. This is where the muscle size increases due to exercise tearing the muscle fibres and cells, causing the fibres and cells to grow back bigger and stronger. The adaptation this brings is that the muscle becomes stronger, allowing you to produce more power in a movement including the muscle that experienced hypertropthy and hyperplasia.


Another effect long term exercise has on the muscular system is the increase of myoglobin stores. Myoglobin acts as an oxygen carrier, so when the muscle uses the myoglobin stores to their limit, they increase in numbers to keep up with the demand of oxygen the muscle has placed on them. This change allows a person to exercise for an extended period of time due to there being more myoglobin stores to carry oxygen for the muscle.


Finally, the strength of the muscle becomes larger, which ties in with the increase in hypertropthy. As said before, when you exercise, the muscle tears which causes the fibres to rebuild stronger and larger. This increase in size and strength allows you to use more power in an action which contains the muscle which increased and also allows a person to be able to pick up heavier objects with more ease.

Energy Systems

Finally, onto the last system of the body, the energy system.


When you take part in exercise, your mitochondria and enzymes work to create ATP for energy to allow you to work. If you push the mitochondria and enzymes, they struggle to cope with demand, therefore creating more to be able to supply the demand. With more mitochondria and enzymes, the reactions to create ATP can be carried a lot more efficiently, allowing the person to exercise harder for longer.


Lastly, the glycogen stores increase due to the bodies demand for more energy. The body creates more glycogen stores to hold more glycogen which can be turned into energy, through ATP. This is done to supply the demand, as the body requires more energy to exercise for an extended period of time. With more glycogen stores in the body, this will allow someone to exercise for longer than usual, as they have more glycogen to be transferred into ATP.