Exercise and homeostasis must work in harmony within the human body to maintain proper functioning of the pulmonary, heart, and muscle systems. Lifting weights or jogging down the street are two common forms of exercise that produce a stress, or strain, on the body. Muscles must react rapidly to the movements of the exercise, while blood flow and oxygen levels must be redirected to compensate for the extra energy use.
Homeostasis refers to the human body's balance between all vital life systems. A jogger must breathe more briskly than a person at rest. Lack of oxygen to any vital body system will result in cellular damage, or injury. The extra oxygen entering the jogger's lungs, through the pulmonary system, helps return equilibrium to the body. As a result of the increased oxygen intake, the muscles produce more adenosine triphosphate (ATP), needed for continued muscular movement.
The main muscle affected by exercise and homeostasis is the heart. The heart must beat faster during exercise, moving oxygen-rich blood out to the skeletal muscles for motion. As the exercise slows, the heart responds to the change in homeostasis by reducing the pumping action. The body will continue to alter its functions, to maintain homeostasis, until the person is at rest again.
Blood flow supply routes also change within the body during exercise. Exercise-related strain placed across the muscular system requires more blood than normal to enhance oxygen supply to the muscle cells. In response to the exercise and homeostasis requirements, the body reroutes blood normally directed toward digestion or nervous system activities to the skeletal muscles. Removing the strain on the muscles causes the blood flow to return to its normal routes for achieving a resting homeostasis.
Body temperature is another important consideration in relation to exercise and homeostasis. Excessive body temperatures can be reached during strenuous and long term exercising. Homeostasis occurs by allowing the body to sweat. The evaporation of the sweat from the skin cools the body, resulting in an overall temperature balance to allow continued exercise without overheating.
The relationship between exercise and homeostasis can fail if overexertion or a preexisting condition is involved. Long distance runners or asthma sufferers can run out of breath, causing the heart and muscles to have oxygen deficiencies. The runner or asthma sufferer must slow down, or stop completely, to regain bodily homeostasis.
Post-exercise stretching and relaxation techniques — such as yoga — help return oxygen to the depleted blood supply. Strenuous exercise still affects the body immediately afterward by requiring deep breaths to be drawn. Studies have shown calories are still burned by the muscles after exercise until the person returns to a resting homeostasis.