Fitness and Exercise Improve Your Body's Systems
Fitness and the Musculoskeletal System
Table of Contents
Physical fitness is important for health and wellness because exercise has a beneficial effect on most systems in the body. Unfortunately, many people do not get adequate exercise. According to 2017 data, only, 53.3% of U.S. adults engaged in the amount of aerobic exercise that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends for good health, and only 23.2% got a sufficient amount of both aerobic and strengthening exercise.1
Most people would benefit from getting more exercise, because of the ways it improves overall health.
According to exercise science, fitness has a positive impact on the musculoskeletal system. It can increase the size and strength of muscle fibers, as well as ligaments and tendons. It also increases the number and size of mitochondria.
Two types of strength training that have these specific effects are isometric exercise and isotonic exercise. With isotonic exercise, muscle contracts against a load, such as when someone lifts weights. With isometric exercise, muscle contracts without a person moving. For instance, staying still in a squat position is an example of an isometric exercise.
Benefits of Isotonic Exercise
The research has shown the benefits of isotonic exercise. A 2014 study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that isometric knee exercises increased muscle thickness and improved strength. In fact, one type of isometric exercise performed over eight weeks increased muscle thickness by 9% – 14%.2
Benefits of Isometric Exercise
Main Systems Impacted by Fitness and Exercise
Fitness and the Cardiovascular System
According to the CDC, exercise is also good for you because of its benefits on the cardiovascular system. For instance, it can reduce blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels. In terms of cholesterol, exercise reduces levels of bad cholesterol and raises levels of healthy cholesterol.4 This means that exercise lowers the risk of clogged arteries and can prevent a person from having a heart attack.
Immune System Benefits with Exercise
In addition to its benefits for the cardiovascular system, exercise also has a positive effect on the functioning of the immune system. It is thought to flush bacteria, strengthen antibodies, prevent bacteria growth, and reduce stress hormones that can make a person sick.
A research report in a 2019 edition of the Journal of Sport and Health Science found that exercise improves the immune system functioning so much that people who exercise moderately are less likely to become ill. One study found that compared to those who got a low amount of exercise, those who got a high amount of exercise were 18% less likely to become sick over a four-month period.5 In fact, research shows that moderate-intensity exercise, performed almost daily, is more effective for preventing illness than most medications and supplements.5
Exercise's Effects on the Nervous System
Another reason that exercise is good for you is that it improves the functioning of the nervous system. In the central nervous system, exercise has a beneficial effect on the brain, as it promotes the growth of new cells, according to research. Over the long-term, exercise can increase the activity of brain-derived neurotrophic factor. This can promote improved learning and reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease.5
Exercise also has a positive influence on the sympathetic nervous system, as it can reduce the activity of this system. This is important because excessive activity in the sympathetic nervous system can be linked to high blood pressure and heart failure. Physical fitness is likely to improve the way that the nervous system controls circulation.6
More Systems Impacted by Exercise and Fitness
Fitness and the Endocrine System
The Impact of Exercise on the Digestive System
Respiratory System Benefits of Exercise
Exercise and a Healthy Mind
Beyond its other numerous benefits, exercise is good for you because it improves psychological functioning. According to research, moderate-intensity exercise lowers stress and anxiety, improves self-image, and has a positive effect on mood. In fact, the impact of exercise is so strong that it can reduce depression. It also reduces cognitive decline during older adulthood.5
Fitness and Physical Literacy
In addition to its benefits for the body’s various systems, exercise improves a construct known as physical literacy. According to researchers, this term describes the degree to which a person is able and committed to being physically active. A 2019 study in the journal BMC Public Health found that when sedentary adults participated in a weekly exercise training program for 15 weeks, their physical literacy scores improved by about 12%. Beginning to participate in physical exercise can help people to develop a commitment to fitness.8
Fitness Impacts All Your Body’s Systems