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Short and Long Term Effects of Exercise on the Cardiovascular System

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Many people know that regular exercise can aid in weight loss, improve your mood, and boost energy. But did you know that exercise has both short and long term effects on the cardiovascular system? The cardiovascular system delivers nutrients and oxygen to all cells in the body, and consists of the heart and the blood vessels.

In honor of American Heart Month, Dr. Frederick Basilico, Physician in Chief for Medicine at NEBH explains the benefits of exercise on the cardiovascular system, and what you can do to gain the benefits.

In order to gain short and long term benefits on your cardiovascular system, you will need to exercise regularly. It is advised that you perform light exercise such as walking for at least 30 minutes 5 days a week. Alternatively, you can perform moderate exercise such as running or bicycling for at least 30 minutes 3 days a week.

Short Term Effects of Exercise on the Cardiovascular System

Many short-term effects take place during physical activity, including:

  • Faster heart contractions. This leads to an increased heart rate and increased circulation, which gets oxygenated blood to your muscles quicker.
  • More forceful heart contractions with each heartbeat, which leads to a greater amount of blood being pumped throughout the body.

Long Term Effects of Exercise on the Cardiovascular System

A fairly well conditioned athlete can see long term cardiovascular effects from exercising in as little as two weeks. People who are just beginning to exercise will see effects in up to four weeks. These effects include:

  • The heart and lungs become more efficient as your cardiovascular training increases.
  • Decreased resting heart rate, which means your heart doesn’t have to beat as often to circulate blood. 
  • Improved ability to draw in deeper and longer breaths, and take fewer breaths.
  • Reduced risk of heart disease.

If you have any health concerns, consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine.

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