Metabolism and exercise


Exercise and fitness

Respiratory System

Aerobic System





Skeletal Muscle



Exercise and fitness


Exercise has short-term and long-term effects on the respiratory and cardiovascular systems, and on skeletal muscle.


Short-term, heart rate as well as cardiac output, respiratory rate and tidal volume increase in order to provide more oxygenated blood to working muscles. These refer to how fast the heart beats, how much blood the heart pumps, how many breaths are taken and how much air is inhaled by the lungs.



Blood vessels dilate in the muscles during exercise, while they contract in the digestive system. This blood shunting prioritises the most active body systems.


Longer term effects such as cardiac hypertrophy and skeletal muscle hypertrophy (growth) from certain kinds of exercise result in increased fitness, and an overall improved health. Regular moderate or vigorous exercise is associated with a lower incidence of many diseases including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, breast cancer, early death, osteoarthritis, hip fracture, depression and dementia.


Aerobic fitness, that is the efficiency with which the oxygen-dependent processes take place during exercise e.g. heart, lung and muscle function, is associated with multiple factors such as participation in exercise (aerobic exercise increases aerobic fitness), sex and age.

Aerobic fitness, as measured by the VO2 max (maximum uptake of oxygen) falters with age, and averages out higher in males compared to females.

Maximum oxygen uptake does what it says on the tin and is denoted by VO2 max which refers to the maximum volume of oxygen.

It represents the amount of oxygen used up through breathing during incremental exercise that exerts the body to that maximal point. For example…..

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