You may be one of those people who genuinely enjoys getting a work out, someone who schedules their cardio strictly for the social aspects, or a person who avoids exercise as much as humanly possible; but no matter where you stand when it comes to enthusiasm for exercise, you probably know that exercise changes your body, both in the short-term and long-term. We know this — but what you may not know is why these changes happen when we start exercising more.
I mean, I'm sure you're aware that lifting weights tends to make your muscles grow, and exercising regularly can affect everything from your body composition to your mood. But knowing why exercise affects our bodies and brains the way it does is different than simply observing the changes — and understanding how exercise changes you might give you some interesting insight to your routines as well.
Even if you've recently started working out more than usual, you might want know what's going on in your body when all the weird side effects of working out more start to become noticeable. So check out these five weird things exercising more does to your body, below.
1. Your Muscles Tear
You know that sore feeling you get the day after you hit the gym for the first time in months? Well, that soreness is actually your muscles working to repair all the little rips you created during your last workout. Evidently, when you start working out more, your muscles actually form tiny tears which help them grow bigger and stronger as they heal. So basically, even when you're safely lifting weights, you're tearing your muscles — but it's good for you. Strange, right? If you're struggling with that soreness, though, the Mayo Clinic recommends staying hydrated, properly fueling, and making sure you're getting adequate rest, so your body has time to heal.
2. You'll Poop More
You may already know from experience that exercise can regulate your bowels and help with constipation, but in case you didn't know, heads up — the more you exercise, the more you'll poop.
Here's the deal: exercise cuts down on the time it takes for the food you eat to pass through your large intestine. In turn, this limits the amount of water that gets absorbed from your stool into your body. The less water that your body takes from your stool, the easier it is for you to pass it, and the more regular your bowels become.
Additionally, exercise speeds up your breathing and your heart rate, which helps kick-start the natural contractions of your intestinal muscles. When your intestinal muscles are contracting like they're supposed to, it helps your body move poops out more quickly. So if you struggle with, um, regularity, hitting the gym is a natural cure.
3. The Blood Flow To Your Brain Changes
When you exercise, your brain immediately starts to function at a higher level because exercise causes increased blood flow to the brain. This is why exercise helps us feel more alert and focused both during and after our workouts.
Additionally, when you start exercising regularly, your brain grows so accustomed to the increased blood flow it gets during exercise that it actually starts to adapt by turning certain genes on or off. Incidentally, many of these brain changes actually work to protect frequent exercisers from diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, while simultaneously reducing their risk of stroke.
4. Your Sex Drive May Get A Boost
During and after exercise, your blood flow increases — and it increases everywhere. Consequently, all that pumping blood allows for our erectile tissue (yes, ladies have that, too! It's just internal) to fill with blood, which leads to major horniness. Good circulation plays a huge role in sexual arousal, and since regular exercise increases circulation, it also increases sex drive. Which, come to think of it, is also a pretty decent form of exercise.