How Does Exercise Affect Heart Rate?

Experts agree that when working out, the heart rate should fall within certain parameters, but how does exercise affect the heart rate? The increase in heart rate while exercising depends on numerous factors and several body systems play a crucial role. This includes the nervous system, hormones, muscles and the brain. To fully understand how exercise affects heart rate, the physiological aspect of these systems must be examined.

HORMONES Hormones play an important part in how exercise affects heart rate. While exercising, endorphins or powerful hormones in the brain are released, including adrenaline. This powerful hormone, which is secreted by the adrenaline gland, causes a response in the body that helps accelerate the heart rate. Although adrenalin is most often associated with the "flight to fight" response and stressful situations, it is one of the key hormones that targets the increase in heart rate while exercising.

NERVOUS SYSTEM The nervous system allows for adrenalin to affect the heart rate through stimulation. When exercising, neurons in the brain are stimulated by action potentials, or electrical impulses. This complicated system of nerves can cause changes in the heart and other muscular organs of the body. As the impulse actions steadily increases, the heart receives electrical stimulation much more quickly.

MUSCLES The muscles affect the heart rate in various ways during exercises as well. As oxygen requirements increase, the demand for oxygen becomes greater. The oxygen and energy that is being depleted must be restored. Oxygen consumption through increased respiration is inevitable and must pass through the cardiovascular system.

This is only a simple overview of how exercise affects heart rate. As previously noted, the various systems of the body work harmoniously together to achieve the increase in heart rate associated with exercise and one system alone would not be sufficient.



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