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Responses to exercise

Steady state exercise

Steady state exercise is when the body has been working continuously for
more than 15 minutes and allowing lactic acid to be removed, continuous
exercises is a form of exercise that does not stop for example long periods
of running, swimming or cycling. Examples of no continuous exercises
would be interval training like sprinting then walking and weight exercises
like weight lifting because you have to rest. When the body has been
exercising at a steady state various changes will start to take occur within
the body, here are some of the changes that happen during steady state


• The heart rate levels off

• Increased stroke volume
• Vasodilation of blood vessels leading to the working muscles
• Blood pressure levels off
• Thermoregulation


• Tidal volume levels off

• Breathing rate levels off
• Oxygen is unloaded from hemoglobin much more readily


• Increased pliability of muscles

• Increased speed of neural transmissions


• Aerobic ATP production

I will now go into more detail about each of the changes.

Cardiac hypertrophy

Cardiac hypertrophy is defined as an increase in the heart strength, size

and blood volume, when this happens the left wall of the heart thickens
and has a big effect on a person’s heart stroke volume, heart rate and
cardiac output because the hearts strength in contractions increases
because of the change in strength.

Heart rate

The heart rate starts to rise during continuous exercise and then starts to
peak during the first few minutes of exercise then after the heart rate has
peaked it starts to level off and continues a path at a continuous steady
state until the exercise stops. The reason the heart rate increases is
because of the demand of oxygen to the muscles is greater and a faster
supply of oxygen is needed so the heart must pump the blood around the
body faster to help met the bodies new demand.

Stroke volume

While exercising there is an increase in the amount of blood that returns

to the heart after circulating the body because the body is working harder,
the increase of blood volume has an effect on the cardiac muscle and
stretches it to a greater degree than normal. The effect of the stretching
makes the heart contractions more powerful and increases the amount of
blood that is pumped out by each contraction, stroke volume increases
during exercise known as Starling law.

Blood flow

During exercise the working muscles need a greater supply of blood

because they need more oxygen in order for them to continue to keep
working, the body is capable of redirecting blood to where it is mostly
wanted by constricting the blood vessels that are not in much use and do
not need a high flow of blood like some organs and aimed towards the
working muscles. The process of constricting blood vessels is called
vasoconstriction and the process for dilating the blood is called
vasodilation, constriction means becoming smaller and dilation means
becoming bigger.

Changes to blood pressure during steady state exercise

The working muscles that are in use act to reduce blood pressure from the
dilated blood but to help counteract this there is an increase of blood
pressure from the cardiac output, During exercise such as running,
cycling, swimming systolic pressure will increase progressively whereas
diastolic pressure will increase only slightly. During weight lifting
exercises, both systolic and diastolic pressures will rise because of the
high intensity exercise.