What Processes Does Working Out Trigger in the Body?

It is now widely recognised that physical activity is healthy. But what exactly are the effects of working out and what happens in the body?

Reading Time

About 10 Min.


How Does Working Out Impact the Body?

Each type of exercise puts the body under a different kind of strain. Strength training reshapes muscles in particular and increases strength, while endurance training has a positive impact on the cardiovascular system. Flexibility training is particularly effective at preventing injuries and misalignments. Warming up is crucial for getting the body ready for exercise. Read more about all the effects of physical activity now.


1. Impacts and Effects of Warming Up

Preparation of the cardiovascular system for subsequent workouts
Physical activity improves breathing, heart rate (from 60 to over 200 beats per minute), and stroke rate (from 90 to up to 200 ml per beat). More energy travels from the bloodstream to the muscles faster and performance is improved.

Joint cartilage becomes thicker and offers increased protection
Hyaline cartilage found on joint surfaces absorbs more fluid and becomes 10–15% thicker, allowing it to better withstand strain and shock. Synovial fluid, also known as a joint lubricant (94% water), provides the joints with the necessary nutrients.

Increased perspiration allows the body to regulate its own temperature
Before carrying out any fast and vigorous movements, it is very important to warm up the body because muscles that have been warmed up are more elastic and can contract more quickly. This prevents injuries, such as pulled muscles, from happening. Sweat helps the body cool down. Increased perspiration is a sign that the body is ready for working out and can now regulate its body temperature to cool down on itself.


2. Impacts and Effects of Strength Training

Increased Strength
Weight-training leads to increased strength. For starters, it improves intramuscular coordination in particular. That’s when more muscle fibers are active within a muscle at the same time. Intermuscular coordination (between the muscles) is improved, making it possible for smoother movements to be made. The muscle profile then also grows after a few weeks of working out on a regular basis. Maximum strength training (2 sets, 1–4 reps) can also further enhance intramuscular coordination.

Targeted strength training increases the muscle profile
Regular strength training bulks up the muscle profile by thickening muscle fibers (hypertrophy). Experts believe hyperplasia (increase in muscle fibers) to be unlikely. The preferred method for effective muscle building is hypertrophy training (70–85%, 3–4 sets, 7–12 reps) because it trains muscles to the point of complete exhaustion.

Sore muscles lead to muscle restructuring
With untrained muscles, total exhaustion leads to sore muscles. Soreness stems from very fine tears in the strained muscles. Proteins are also required to rebuild the structure of muscles and make them stronger. Muscles must also grow in order to be reshaped, but this is a painful form of exercise that impairs movement.

The passive musculoskeletal system becomes stronger
The passive musculoskeletal system serves as a support system for the body. Strength training not only targets muscles but also passive structures, such as bones, cartilage, and ligaments. Compression and tension (e.g. internal bone structure) change during strength training and help increase bone density. This not only protects the body from injury but also prevents bone loss (osteoporosis) in old age.

Strength training also thickens and firms up cartilage and ligaments to sustainably protect against injuries and joint deterioration (osteoarthritis).

Strength training circuits also boost endurance
Strength training, especially when done in a circuit, can help improve endurance performance. It also saves you time! Compared to conventional strength training, it has been shown that circuit strength training is associated with increased heart rate of 9% (Alcaraz et al. 2008). This means the cardiovascular system works harder but with the same exertion of strength.


3. Impacts and Effects of Endurance Training

Economical coordination of the heart and lungs
As the heart muscle adapts to exercise, the heart rate drops when at rest and under strain. The volume of blood pumped with each heartbeat increases, on the other hand. Lung performance is improved because more oxygen can be absorbed in a shorter time and made available in the blood supply for the production of energy.

Recovery is faster thanks to the increased transport of oxygen and mass transfer
The red blood cells bind to oxygen and carry it through the bloodstream to the muscles and other organs. Increased regeneration leads to better oxygen transport (approx. 40% improvement). The proliferation of fine veins in the muscles, which are important for metabolism, ensures an additional increase in the exchange of substances. This enables greater performance and faster recovery.

Improvement of muscular endurance
Reshaping muscle fiber helps long-term performance in particular. It allows muscle glycogen and blood glucose (carbohydrates) to be broken down more slowly, while fat and lactic acid (which leads to over-acidification of the muscles during intense workouts) are metabolised more efficiently (Holloszy, 1984). In other terms, the strength endurance of muscles is improved.

Electrolytes are expelled through sweat
Increased sweat gland activity during physical activity also leads to the increased excretion of important electrolytes. While sweat glands learn to release fewer minerals with sweat during regular activity, this, unfortunately, does not apply to potassium and magnesium. That’s why staying hydrated during and after working out is so important in order to maintain the necessary level of electrolytes.


4. Impacts and Effects of Flexibility Training

Improvement of flexibility and prevention of injuries
Muscle length training increases the length of muscles and improves the flexibility of joint capsules, tendons, and ligaments, thereby boosting one’s overall mobility. Having greater flexibility can keep injuries at bay and prevent you from making unwanted compensating movements when pushing your flexibility to the limits (e.g. when bending down).

Stretching alleviates acute pain
Active stretching methods can help briefly relieve neck tension or back pain, for instance. In the long term, however, if you want to stop pain, additional strength training is a must.

Compensation of muscular imbalances
Muscular imbalances are when tension is not evenly balanced between two functionally opposite muscle groups. The balance between the muscle pairs can be restored by stretching the stronger side and working out the weaker side with strength exercises. Left/right asymmetries, in particular, can be balanced out in a targeted manner.


Did you know that physical activity can also boost the immune system?

Literature & Sources

Alcaraz, P. E., Sánchez-Lorente, J., & Blazevich, A. J. (2008). Physical performance and cardiovascular responses to an acute bout of heavy resistance circuit training versus traditional strength training. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 22(3), 667-671.

Holloszy, J. O., & Coyle, E. F. (1984). Adaptations of skeletal muscle to endurance exercise and their metabolic consequences. Journal of applied physiology, 56(4), 831-838.