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RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM AND PHYSICAL EXERCISE

Why is breathing so important in our lives? Here are some important facts about breathing that will interest you:

1.Our body requires about 40 kg of oxygen daily

2.We take approximately 21,600 breaths of air each day

3.Breathing regulates our heartbeat

4.Proper breathing is the very essence of life



Now that you know the importance of breathing, have you ever thought what happens to the air that you inhale and exhale? Some of you might not know the significance of oxygen and its role in our daily life. Our body has a mechanism to process the oxygen intake which helps us to perform our daily task.


                                Example of breathing process


To know how the oxygen intake process works, you must be aware of the functions of lungs, heart, blood vessels and blood. All these components serve a specific role and the combinations are related to cardiovascular system and cardiorespiratory system. In short, cardiovascular system acts as a pump in pushing the blood out of the heart and the circulatory system as a transport medium in transporting the blood to the skeletal muscle during physical activities. Meanwhile, the respiratory system enables the transport of oxygen from the environment to the blood and to the cells and transports out carbon dioxide. Oxygen is important in the production of energy which is needed by the working muscles. We will learn in depth about the cardiovascular system and its relationship with physical exercise.


CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM


Before we discuss about the relationship between the cardiovascular system and physical exercise and how to test the system, you have to understand the basic concept of the cardiovascular system. By knowing the system, you will be able to understand the relationship of the system with any physical exercise involving human movement.
The cardiovascular system is made of two components: the heart and the blood vessels. The heart is an important organ in a cardiovascular system. It pumps blood to the whole body and the blood transport oxygen and nutrients to the cells and tissue. The heart is divided into four chambers. The upper chambers consist of left and right atrium, whereas the bottom chambers consist of the left and right ventricles. Blood flows through the superior and interior vena cava into the right atrium and it is pushed into the right ventricle. From the right ventricle, the blood is then pumped into the lungs for exchange of gases. The oxygenated blood then returns to the left atrium and is pushed into the left ventricle and pumped into the body.

The Heart- The heart is a hollow muscular organ that pumps blood around the body through the circulatory system. The right side of the heart receives blood and sends it to the lungs to be oxygenated, while the left side receives oxygenated blood from the lungs and sends it out to the tissues of the body.

Blood - Blood is a living tissue that circulates around your body through the arteries, veins and capillaries. Blood contains red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, plasma, electrolytes, hormones, minerals and iron. Every part of the body depends on blood to supply the necessary oxygen and nutrients it needs to survive.

Blood Vessels - The blood vessels are part of the circulatory system that transports blood throughout the body. The arteries, capillaries and veins are the three major types of blood vessels.


Schematic representation of pulmonary and systemic circulatory system

(1)It starts with the respiratory system from the nose via trachea to the lungs. Oxygen from the lungs will diffuse into the blood.

(2)The heart will pump the blood through blood vessels to the skeletal muscle, which needs oxygen to perform physical exercise. The whole muscular system acts like a circuit. The circuit is then involved in the cycle of delivering blood from the lungs.

(3)The pulmonary artery carries oxygen-poor blood from the right ventricle of the heart to the lungs, where oxygen and carbon-dioxide removal occurs.

(4)Pulmonary veins carry oxygen-rich blood from the lungs back to the left atrium of the heart.


Relationship Between Cardiovascular System and Physical Exercise

Cardiovascular system is closely related to physical exercise. In fact, they work to complement each other. We will take driving a car as an example. Fuel is like oxygen which works as the source of energy. The car engine is similar to the cardiovascular system which mainly involves in transferring the energy to move the wheel and when the wheel moves, the car moves as well. The wheel acts like the skeletal muscle, which supplies force to start the movement. Therefore, all human movements are based on physical demands.

By being actively involved in physical exercise, it will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your cardiovascular system Physical exercise puts stress on the cardiorespiratory system and increases the demand of oxygen over time. The higher the intensity level one applies during an exercise routine, the more oxygen supply is needed. When your cardiovascular system works effectively, you can supply oxygen to the working muscles in a continuous manner. As a result, you can prolong your physical exercise compared to those who seldom exercise.

Your Heart and Exercise

Can you tell me the functions of a heart in the cardiovascular system? The heart is like a pump which is a major component in the cardiovascular system. Figure  illustrates the parts of a human heart. The heart will pump the rich-oxygen blood to the skeletal muscle and if the pumping does not function well, the whole body system will collapse.


                                                                 Anatomy of the human heart


Basically, if sufficient stress from physical exercising is applied to the heart it will make the heart wall thicker and stronger (Foster and Maud, 2006). A strong heart can pump higher stroke volume and increase cardiac output. Hence, with a few heart contractions, a strong heart will pump higher volume of the blood to the whole body compared to a weak heart which has to pump more in order to support the whole body.

Heart effectiveness can be increased in two ways:

(a)By increasing the amount of blood the heart pumps

(b)By pumping at a higher blood pressure

Physical exercise makes your heart work more in both ways. The more your heart functions, the stronger it will become. Doing regular exercise will increase your fitness level and it can also reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases (American College of Sports Medicine, 2003). What is the best way to determine how much exercise you should do in a week? Three times a week and 30 minutes for each session is sufficient. If your fitness level is considered good, you can do high intensity physical exercises like jogging, swimming and cycling.

Low intensity physical exercises like walking are more suitable for those who are not fit enough. The most important thing is that you have to know your fitness level before doing any kind of physical exercise. In order to determine your fitness level, you have to undergo a cardiovascular fitness test.




References ;

American College of Sports Medicine (2003). Guidelines for exercise testing and prescription (5th ed.). USA: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins.

Baumgartner, T. A., Jackson, A. S., Mahar, M. T. & Rowe, D. A. (2007). Measuring for evaluation (8th ed.). New York: McGraw Hill.

Foster, C., & Maud, P. J. (2006). Physiological assessment of human fitness (2nd ed.). United States: Human Kinetics.
Morrow, J. R., Jackson, A. W., Disch, J. G. & Mood, D. P. (2005). Measuring and evaluating in human performance (3rd Ed.). United States: Human Kinetics.
Nieman, D. C. (2007). Exercise testing and prescription, A Health-Related Approach (6th ed.). Boston: McGraw Hill.

Wasserman, K., Hansen, J. E., Sue, D. Y., Casaburi, R. and Whipp, B. J. (1999). Principles of exercise testing and interpretation (3rd ed.). USA: Lippincott, Williams and Wilkinsin.



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