20 January 2023

GCSE Posters - The Effects of Exercise

Help your students understand the effects that exercise has on the body with these free posters!

Help your students understand the effects that exercise has on the body with these free posters!

Are you teaching your GCSE PE students about the effects of exercise? Then you need to download our FREE classroom posters highlighting the short term, medium term and long-term effects of exercise!

Download the posters!

Short-term effects of exercise

Exercise requires several of the body’s systems to work together to supply energy to the muscles being used and to remove any waste products.

Greater levels of oxygen are required as muscles begin to work, so the respiratory system reacts to exercise by increasing breathing rate and tidal volume.

The body then needs to ensure that greater level of oxygen makes its way around the body and so the cardiovascular system increases stroke volume, heart rate, cardiac output and blood pressure, while the cardio-respiratory system increases oxygen uptake. And we can see this visually, as our skin turns red and becomes hot and sweaty.

Our muscular system then increases the temperature of the working muscles and increases their pliability.

The cardio-respiratory system increases the removal of carbon dioxide, a by-product.

Another by-product, lactate or lactic acid, is produced by the energy system – eventually you will need to stop the exercise for this to be metabolised, otherwise you will experience cramp.

Once you have finished exercising, it is then important to rest, adapt and recover, as you risk injury if the body is not properly rested after exercise – in fact, it’s one of the main principles of training.

Medium-term effects of exercise

You may experience a few side effects of exercise 24-36 hours afterwards.

These include tiredness and fatigue - both physical and mental. It’s really important for athletes to recover properly after intense exercise, such as hard training or competition. Getting a good night’s sleep is, therefore, an important element of recovery.

You may feel somewhat nauseous after intense exercise and this can last for hours or even a couple of days. Even if you do feel nauseous, it is important to eat and drink, as refuelling is so important in aiding recovery.

You may also feel a little lightheaded. When this happens, it usually means that you’re dehydrated or you have low energy stores, so eating and drinking is, again, an important part of your recovery.

And finally, you may experience Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). This is muscular pain that is caused by microscopic tears in your muscle fibres. DOMS is usually experienced after a change in training or performance intensity. If you do experience DOMS, it’s really important to rest your affected muscles, otherwise you risk injury.

Long-term effects of exercise

Regular exercise and training helps to adapt the body systems used during exercise to work better, helping to improve performance. It also leads to better health in general.

Resistance training can lead to muscle hypertrophy (i.e. your muscles will get bigger), increase tendon and ligament strength. It can also increase bone density.

Aerobic training can lead to cardiac hypertrophy, where your ventricle wall gets bigger or thicker. As the wall of the left ventricle increases, it is able to pump more blood during each contraction, increasing the stroke volume. And when your stroke volume increases, your resting heart rate can decrease while the cardiac output stays the same.

Another important change caused by aerobic exercise is capillarisation around the alveoli in the lungs and the skeletal muscle. This means that new capillaries are formed in these areas. In the alveoli, this means that more carbon dioxide can be removed. And in the skeletal muscles, it means that more oxygen can be carried to the muscles that are working.

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You may also like our posters on the main principles of training and the 11 key components of fitness!