Homeostasis is the tendency of the body to maintain relatively consistent internal conditions. Several body systems -- including the endocrine system and cardiovascular system, as well as the brain -- work to maintain healthy bodily conditions. For example, the heart rate elevates during exercise to increase blood flow to tissue, ensuring healthy organs and muscles. The body responds to heat by sweating to return the body to normal body temperature. Good overall health improves homeostasis and speeds up your body's ability to return to normal. Several steps you can take during exercise also will improve homeostatic function.
Stretch and warm up before exercising, particularly if you're doing strength training. This gradually increases blood supply to your muscles, an important component of homeostasis. Increased blood supply helps your muscles to work more efficiently, decreasing your risk of injury.
Breathe deeply and regularly to ensure adequate oxygen supply. When the blood is properly oxygenated, your muscles work more efficiently and you are less likely to become overheated. Exhale slowly to avoid hyperventilating. You may need to slow down your workout routine if you are unable to breathe properly.
Monitor your heart rate. For most people, the ideal heart rate during strenuous exercise is 70 percent to 80 percent of their maximum heart rate. When your heart rate exceeds this, your body may work less efficiently. For people with medical conditions, homeostasis may become ineffective when the heart rate speeds up too much. Calculate your target heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. To take your pulse, place your fingers on the pulse at your wrist and monitor the beats for 10 seconds. Then multiply the number by six.
Drink water before, during and after exercise. Adequate hydration plays a pivotal role in homeostasis. If you are dehydrated, your joints may suffer. You will sweat less, which increases your risk of overheating. Dehydration can also increase your risk of an irregular heart rate. An irregular heart rate is dangerous at any time, and can make exercise incredibly difficult.
Slow down at the end of your exercise routine rather than stopping altogether. Do a few more stretches or an exercise cool-down. Sitting down while your heart is racing can force your heart to work harder, increasing the amount of time it takes to return to homeostasis.
- Biology: Life on Earth with Physiology; Gerald Audesirk et al.
- University of New South Wales: Homeostasis
- Physiology of Sport and Exercise; Dr. Jack H. Wilmore et al.
Brenna Davis is a professional writer who covers parenting, pets, health and legal topics. Her articles have appeared in a variety of newspapers and magazines as well as on websites. She is a court-appointed special advocate and is certified in crisis counseling and child and infant nutrition. She holds degrees in developmental psychology and philosophy from Georgia State University.