Adding a regular workout program to your schedule is one of the most powerful ways to improve your life. Not only do you become fitter and healthier, but you have more energy and feel better able to take on the world. You may even feel more confident, which can be a great ally in your career and love life.
It’s not all in your head, though. When you start working out, remarkable changes begin to occur in your body. A whole network of sophisticated biochemistry kicks into action, literally transforming your body from the inside out. That’s why before and after pictures can sometimes be so mind-blowing. The results that people achieve aren’t just superficial – they run deep.
In this post, we take a look at some of the remarkable body changes that will happen when you start working out. Some will crop up immediately, while others will take time to show themselves.
The first thing you’ll notice within 24 hours after an intense training session is muscle soreness, particularly if you haven’t trained for a whole. Exercise causes microtrauma to muscles which the body then needs to fix to grow back stronger. It’s a type of hormesis – a little stress provides cells with the incentive they need to adapt and improve.
On a macro level – the level of your body and mind – this feels like a dull ache in the muscle that gets worse when you touch it. However, you want to interpret it positively. Even if it feels a little unpleasant sometimes, the microtraumas will eventually lead to improvements in your fitness and assist your recovery.
Eventually, muscle soreness will begin to decline. After around eight weeks of consistent training, you should notice that you feel fresher the following day.
If that happens, then you might want to consider switching up your program. However, don’t worry if you don’t experience soreness. It is not necessary for progress. It simply indicates that you need to rest.
You Feel More Energetic
Getting into fitness also helps you feel more energetic generally. That’s because it activates body systems associated with activity.
Most people think about energy in the wrong way, though. They imagine that they have a given stock of energy available to them every day and that they use it up by engaging in activities. However, that’s not how it works at all. Instead, activity actually creates energy – both over short and long time scales.
If this doesn’t sound plausible to you, think about how you felt the last time you went for a walk or a cycle ride. Chances are you felt energized afterwards.
Now think back to a time in your life when you had the most energy. Were you exercising more often? In all likelihood, you were.
Granted, you will feel tired after a grueling training session. However, eventually, your body will come back stronger and you’ll feel so much better. Everyday that you stick to an exercise regime, your capacity for engaging in physical activity rises.
Your Muscles Get Bigger
Perhaps one of the most fascinating aspects of exercise is that it makes your muscles grow. In other words, the more you train, the bigger your gains.
This process is perhaps one of the best examples of an adaptive system in the body. Muscles recognize when they aren’t strong enough and need to grow bigger to accommodate the challenges that they face.
As discussed above, muscles grow back following tiny tears or traumas in their structure. On sensing these tears, the body floods them with resources, allowing them to grow back bigger and stronger.
All muscles have the capacity to grow and develop. However, the gains you experience relate closely to the type of training that you do.
It’s not always true that you will get “bulky” if you do lots of resistance training. In fact, many people who do weights remain slim and lean throughout their lives. Their muscles are defined, but they aren’t enormous.
Openfit is a brand that provides information on the types of exercises people should do (and the supplements they should consume) when trying to build fitness.
Generally speaking, the best muscle-building exercises use heavy weights for between eight and twelve repetitions. However, using bodyweight or training with a lower or higher number of reps will produce different results. High rep ranges build muscle fitness while low reps typically favor explosive strength.
You can learn about the best bodyweight exercises from Openfit. Bodyweight exercises are among the most functional. These not only build muscle tone and size, but also assist with everyday activities.
Your Brain Changes
Exercise has a significant impact on the brain. Those who regularly go to the gym find that they are better able to concentrate on their work or studies. They are also far less likely to experience depression.
The reason for this relates closely to brain chemistry. The brain is responsible for the production and release of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine. When neurotransmitter levels are balanced, people experience serenity of mind. However, when they fall out of whack, they can experience so-called “low mood.”
Exercise releases many of these compounds when they are lacking. So, for example, people who are low on serotonin often feel better after going for a walk or a run. Training also increases the number of connections in the brain which could be a factor that helps to stave off anxiety and depression.
While exercise isn’t a complete remedy for depression, it is a powerful tool that you can use. Almost always, you will find that you feel better after you exercise compared to before.
Your Blood Pressure Starts To Fall
High blood pressure is a leading cause of death around the world. It’s the main risk factor for heart attacks and stroke.
When you exercise, it changes your cardiovascular health. As your heart rate rises, it increases the shearing forces produced by blood on artery walls. As these rise, it encourages the walls of the blood vessels to adapt and become more flexible. Eventually, over time, this allows them to more easily expand and contract when your heart beats, leading to a decline in blood pressure.
Both cardiovascular and strength training appear to lower blood pressure. Exercise triggers the production of new blood vessels and encourages the existing ones to behave more healthily. Over time, blood pressure declines and often stays low over the long-term.
Your Heart Rate Decreases
Average resting heart rate is somewhere around 60 for a relatively healthy person. However, when you exercise, your heart becomes more efficient, meaning that it doesn’t have to beat so often.
Many people, for instance, who exercise regularly have resting heart rates between 40 and 50. This is very low and dramatically reduces the risk of diseases. The heart has more time to rest between beats, making it less fatigued.
You Sleep Better
Only around 30 to 40 percent of people get the amount of sleep that they need to be at their best. Most are getting significantly less than the seven to eight hours per day they require.
Part of the reason for this is excessive activation of the body’s stress response. When people feel flustered because of work or overburdened with responsibilities, it affects the sympathetic nervous system. If this remains activated for too long, the body cannot shut it off, so it is always in “fight or flight” mode.
Exercise, however, is a powerful tool for allowing the body to reset. Going for a jog or training at the gym for 45 minutes helps to switch you into rest and repair mode, making sleep more likely.
It’s important to time your workouts, though. Don’t exercise just before bed. This can lead to a flurry of energy that can make it harder to get to sleep. Instead, focus your activity around the morning and the middle of the day when the sun is at its brightest. This will help to activate waking hormones which act as a counterbalance to sleep hormone at night.
Your Cells Make More Mitochondria
If you’ve ever studied biology, you will know all about mitochondria. These are the little powerhouses in your body’s cells that take in glucose and oxygen and convert it into energy for cellular processes.
When cells detect exercise, they respond by increasing the number of mitochondria they express. That’s because they sense that they need more energy-creating apparatus to meet the body’s needs.
Ultimately, when you have more mitochondria, it means that you can produce more energy in less time. You may discover that you’re able to move more powerfully on the football pitch or change direction more rapidly while playing tennis. Some people who train regularly can have up to 50 percent more mitochondria than before they started.
Overall, therefore, exercise has a remarkable effect on the body and mind. People who train regularly stand to benefit the most. They may even wind up living longer.
Starting is easy. You don’t have to do anything epic. Just a simple walk in the evening or cycle ride to work is often all you need.