Short and Long Term Effects of Exercise on Respiratory System 

Your respiratory system mainly consists of the lungs, nasal cavity, and diaphragm, and is responsible for transporting carbon dioxide and oxygen to and from muscles and tissues. The respiratory system starts working harder when you exert yourself through physically demanding activities. This is when the respiratory system works with the cardiovascular system to use carbon dioxide and oxygen more effectively. However, the effect of exercise on respiratory system can be quite extensive. Let's find out more about it.


Short Term Effects of Exercise on Respiratory System

When your activity level changes, your body has to respond by making changes to your respiratory system. The change in activity will also affect your muscles and the circulatory system.

1. Changes in Circulatory System

The change in your activity will have an immediate effect on your heart rate. In fact, the release of adrenaline can change your heart rate even before you begin your activity. This in turn increases your cardiac output as well as venous return. After a short time, there will be an increase in lactic acid production and carbon dioxide. Your body temperature will also go up, and the cardiac control center will react to all these changes by increasing your heart rate. Your blood pressure also increases to ensure the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the working muscles.

2. Changes in Respiratory System

The short-term effect of exercise on respiratory system is usually quite extensive and that is mainly due to the changes in the concentration of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood. It is due to these changes that you will notice your breathing rate go up quickly. This also makes your intercostals muscles, diaphragm, and other muscles involved in the expansion of thoracic cavity to work harder. This in turn will make it possible for you to inhale more air to deal with the increased demand for oxygen. What it implies is that there will be an increase in the tidal volume, which refers to the amount of air you inhale and exhale in a single breath. This explains why your breathing rate goes up almost immediately after starting any exercise.

3. Changes in Muscles

During exercise, you will be contracting your muscles quickly. This increase in the rate of muscle contraction can lead to a fall in your energy stores. This in turn triggers energy metabolism and you start to burn more calories. This is also connected to your respiratory system because the increased activity will trigger the release of myoglobin, which provides you with more oxygen to support respiration. There will also be an increase in the rate at which the oxygen moves into the muscles.

Long Term Effects of Exercise on Respiratory System


Your respiratory system responds to a change in your activity level almost immediately, but there will also be some long-term effect of exercise on respiratory and circulatory system. Here is more about it.

1. Changes in Heart Rate

When you exercise, your adrenal gland becomes active and prepares you for the hard work by releasing adrenaline and noradrenaline. These hormones affect the way your heart transports carbon dioxide and oxygen throughout the body. This requires your heart to beat stronger, and this is where the hormones will help by stimulating the sympathetic nervous system. Your heart rate will increase and your cardiac output will go up to help you deal with the strenuous physical activity.

2. Changes in Respiratory Muscles

Exercise leaves an effect on your diaphragm and intercostals muscles, and regular exercise will help strengthen the respiratory muscles. Over time, this also helps chest caving become larger.

3. Changes in Respiratory Volume

The respiratory volume goes up immediately, and regular exercise leads to an increase in overall efficiency of your respiratory system. In fact, people who exercise regularly develop an improved ability to consume oxygen during maximal exercise. This ability is measured using a test called a VO2 max test.

4. Changes in the Gaseous Exchange

Studies show that regular exercise has the ability to increase the number of capillaries around the alveoli. Moreover, regular exercise can help capillaries dilate more, which in turn facilitates efficient exchange of gasses.

5. Changes in Lung Efficiency

The overall efficiency of lungs improves through regular exercise. The benefit comes mainly due because your lungs can now deliver oxygen to the cells of the body. Regular exercise also increases blood flow, which in turn strengthens the lungs and ensures better exchange of gasses.

The fact of the matter is that exercise leaves both short term and long term effect on respiratory system and improves your overall health. You will be able to focus better because of an elevated level of oxygen in your blood, and you will also have a stronger immune system. However, you need to bear in mind that the long-term effect of exercise on your respiratory system depends on your overall fitness. If you are out of shape, the effects are going to be more pronounced. The intensity of your exercise will also have a direct impact on your respiratory system.