By increasing your heart rate, raising your core body temperature, boosting oxygen levels and improving cardiac output, exercise triggers several known biochemical reactions. However, Scientific American magazine explains that scientists are still exploring the chemical mechanisms involved in these reactions, both during and after physical activity. The reaction may be known, but the exact processes are not always clear due to a variety of factors, including your age, sex and body type.
The Feel-Good Endorphins
One of the most well-documented reactions that take place after working out is the production of endorphins. These nonaddictive, feel-good molecules are polypeptides that bind with neurotransmitters in the brain to reduce pain symptoms. The human body produces at least 20 types of endorphins, which benefit the body in myriad ways. Besides relieving pain, endorphins help reduce stress, boost immunity, slow the aging process and create a sense of euphoria.
Changes in Blood Chemistry
Another known reaction that takes place after working out is a change in your blood chemistry. While exercising, your muscles use oxygen contained within your blood’s hemoglobin to convert the glucose in your bloodstream into usable energy. In addition, carbon dioxide and hydrogen are produced during this process. Together, these changes affect your overall blood chemistry and cause your blood’s pH level to drop.
Changes in Your Metabolism
Metabolites are small chemicals involved in your metabolic process that increase the more you exercise. Specifically, glycerol, a metabolite that breaks down fatty tissue, increases after exercise in people at all fitness levels. In fact, after only 10 minutes of exercise, your bloodstream is likely to contain more metabolites than when you started. Furthermore, according to Scientific American magazine, consistent exercise may stimulate long-term changes in your metabolism, of which scientists are only barely scratching the surface.
Your Unique Body Chemistry
Your experience after working out will depend on your own unique body chemistry. For example, the body releases endorphins at a different rate for every individual. It may take some people 10 to 15 minutes of consistent exercise to feel them kick in, whereas others may require 30 minutes or more. In addition, your metabolism often depends on your genetic predisposition, age and body type.