Red blood cells and exercise

Red blood cells and exercise

Exercise has been shown to provide several health benefits and is essential for maintaining a proper physical condition. It affects the body physiologically, including red blood cells, which are our cells in charge of transporting oxygen to body tissues and exchanging it for carbon dioxide. These cells undergo changes during physical activity that attribute to cardiovascular fitness.

Red blood cells, also called erythrocytes, contain the protein hemoglobin (responsible for the red color of blood), which binds to oxygen in the lungs to form oxyhemoglobin and subsequently releases this oxygen to the tissues. Given the greater demand for oxygen that is created during exercise, these cells have a greater adaptation change to meet the new needs.

Exercise stimulates the release of erythropoietin, a hormone produced mainly by the kidneys, which triggers the production of more red blood cells in the bone marrow (soft tissue inside the bones). This is known as erythropoiesis and it’s important since there is an increase in the erythrocyte count, there is also an increase in the oxygen-carrying capacity of the body. This adaptation allows a better supply of oxygen to the muscles and vital organs, this facilitates better physical performance, greater resistance, and reduced fatigue during exercise.

At the same time, physical activity causes vasodilation, this widening of the blood vessels decreases vascular resistance and increases blood flow to the tissues, ensuring that red blood cells with oxygen reach various tissues quickly and effectively. Furthermore, exercise strengthens the heart muscle, causing an increase in stroke volume, that is, the amount of blood pumped per heart beat, which gives it a greater capacity to distribute blood throughout the body.

Red blood cells’ adaptability to exercise improves cardiovascular function and oxygen delivery. Therefore, it is advisable to incorporate physical activity into our routine to optimize the function of our erythrocytes, since these changes not only favor physical performance, but also benefit health and vitality in general.

Heart Care in High-Performance Athletes

Heart Care in High-Performance Athletes

High-performance athletes have a high level of dedication, training, and standard. This is because their training regimens are intense and long, as well as the higher competition between athletes. This level of exercise specifically puts a lot of stress on the cardiovascular system, so personalized heart care and examination is essential for high-performance athletes.

Constantly rigorous exercise causes important cardiovascular adaptations, including changes in the heart. High-performance athletes tend to present what is known as “athlete’s heart”, which is characterized by a larger heart, mainly an increase in the size of the left ventricle (ventricular hypertrophy) and the thickness of the heart walls. They also have a slow resting heart rate, which improves cardiac output and oxygen delivery to the muscles.

However, keep in mind that, just as there are benefits to sports performance, there are also risks of heart problems, such as sudden cardiac death.

What is the importance of an evaluation prior to a competition?

It is recommended that high performance athletes undergo extensive examinations before any major competition, or even before starting a new sport. This includes a complete medical history, medical and physical exams such as a stress test and electrocardiograms (ECG). Which help to identify irregularities such as symptoms related to cardiovascular diseases (palpitations, chest pain, or loss of consciousness), arrhythmias or structural abnormalities that could put health or life at risk during physical activity.

Coaches must work together with a specialized medical team to monitor athletes and start with gradual physical activity, overtraining could affect cardiovascular health, such as increases in the frequency and intensity of training without prior preparation. A gradual training that allows adequate rest and recovery helps prevent cardiovascular problems.

It is also important to remember that training needs are unique to each person, as are physiological requirements during exercise, so personalized care and periodic tests are needed to ensure timely prevention or treatment of any event.

Individual needs include risk factors, nutritional requirements, and stress management. A good diet favors general health and emotional stress could influence heart health, so these pillars should also be taken into account in sports evaluations.

Sports excellence requires commitment and continuous training, but it should not be overlooked that it also requires exhaustive examinations and care due to its influence on cardiovascular health. Comprehensive management must be provided to guarantee and optimize heart care for athletes, including screening tests before starting physical activity or before a competition, and a complete training plan. These elements can help achieve optimal sports performance and safeguard the health of athletes.

Sports: A Natural Antidepressant

Sports: A Natural Antidepressant

Nowadays, cases of anxiety and depression prevail, and these are unfortunately increasing in our society. Although medical treatments remain paramount, there are complementary practices to help against these conditions. One of them is exercise since regular physical activity offers benefits to mental health and improves mood.

During exercise, endorphins, known as “happy” hormones, produced in the brain by the pituitary gland, are released, which stimulate positive emotions such as pleasure and happiness, and in turn, reduce the perception of pain. In addition, other neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin are also released, responsible for other factors that alter mood such as sleep and appetite.

Depression is a mental disorder characterized by low mood and feelings of sadness, this is accompanied by isolation and negative thoughts. The practice of sport helps prevent or break this cycle by promoting social interaction, providing a sense of achievement, creating a support network, and increasing self-esteem.

Sports not only improve physical condition, they also exercise the mind through concentration, decision making and strategic thinking. This helps deflect destructive thoughts and improve cognitive function, which strengthens memory and overall brain health.

Daily life contains moments of high levels of stress, which directly affects the progress and exacerbation of depression. Exercise reduces cortisol levels (a hormone associated with stress), teaches you to deal with problems in a healthy way, helps relieve repressed tension in our day-to-day lives, and promotes relaxation, which also helps to fall asleep. This contributes to a more stable mood.

Performing a sport brings several benefits for mental health and well-being such as: increasing our energy levels, improving our sleep patterns, and releasing endorphins. Therefore, practicing sports should be seen as a natural anti-depressant, which contributes to a healthier state of mind. However, it is important to mention that each individual has different preferences and needs and it is essential to find the physical activity that is appropriate for each person (swimming, yoga, running, etc.).

In case of presenting any symptoms of depression, the medical recommendation is always to see a health professional for assessment, diagnosis, and treatment, before making important changes in our lifestyle.