Term Paper: Physiological Effects of Endurance

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[. . .] When this happens, the lungs are able to slow and down and the heart does not need to work as hard to supply the extra needed oxygen. It is these physical changes that allow endurance training to decrease a person's risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes (3). These are the benefits of endurance training that have a long-term lasting effect.

Submaximal exercise is exercise that is maintained at 60-70% of a person's maximum heart rate for the prescribed duration. The maximum heart rate is defined as the point where the heart is not able to keep up with oxygen demand and cannot produce at any faster rate. Exercise maintained at the submaximal heart rate is considered to be a moderate exercise level. At this level of exercise there may be a slight increase in oxygen consumption. Muscles use less glycogen and there is a decrease in lactate accumulation. Lactate is the chemical responsible for limiting the usage of glycogen for energy (1). It prevents the entire system from running at an unsustainable speed. At these levels there is an increase in performance velocity. There is no change or even a slight decrease in cardiac output. There is an increase in stroke volume and a decrease in heart rate.

At submaximal exercise, the body gains its extra needed energy by decreasing the inhibitor, lactate production. However, the other system has to do little to compensate for the increased activity. The same is not true, however, if one exercises at maximal exercise rate. This rate is at approximately 95% of maximum heart rate. At this rate one begins to see massive increases in oxygen demand. This equates to the body actually doing work, which requires more energy.

A maximal exercise rate, the body goes through many changes. It has an increased demand for oxygen. The means that the body must find a way to increase to supply of oxygen needed to convert ATP to energy. There is an increased cardiac output, either by way of increased heart rate, in an untrained person, or by way of increased stroke volume in a trained person. Cardiac output = stroke volume x heart rate. There may actually be a slight decrease in heart rate when the exercise intensity increases from sub-maximal to maximal. There is a greater pulmonary diffusion capacity, that is a greater amount of oxygen entering the blood in the lungs. There is also an increased blood flow per kilogram.

All of these changes add up to work. If one will recall the first law of thermodynamics, energy can neither be created nor destroyed. The second law of thermodynamics states that a system will seek to achieve stasis, where input and output stops. The body at rest, in a healthy person is in stasis. It produces the exact amount of energy that it needs to carry out automatic functions. The body at maximum exercise level is a perfect example of this principle at work. At sub-maximal exercise rate, the body does not show signs of an increased oxygen demand. This would indicate that it had all of the oxygen that it needs. There is little change from the resting state. The little amount that it does need, it can attain from reducing the limiting factor to increasing energy output on the cellular level.

In order to increase oxygen supply, the body must increase heart and respiratory output. The increase in these functions is not free and also costs energy. It takes more energy to produce more energy due to the heart and lungs working harder. However, at maximum exercise level, the body places an emphasis on the demand needed by the muscles to perform work and decides to increase the output. The body is attempting achieve stasis at a higher energy output level. If it cannot achieve a state near stasis, it will not be able to maintain that level of work and the person will have to stop.

These principles make it simple when it comes to designing an excercise program. If the body can maintain its energy level without increasing oxygen intake, then it will not need to develop the mechanisms necessary to accomplish this task. It maximum exercise level is not maintained, then the body gains no cardiovascular benefit from the exercise. Heart volumes and lung volumes will not increase and the person will not receive the benefits of that exercise.

This research shows that it is not enough to exercise at a moderate level, but that some amount of high intensity training is needed, even for endurance athletes. This would support the work of Hawley et al. (4) and Finn (2) in their plans to include some high intensity, short duration work in their endurance training programs. It is not enough to exercise at a moderate level, even for long periods of time. One must force the body to need the mechanism to supply the extra needed oxygen.

The old philosophy of training used to be that sprinters needed short, duration, high-intensity work, but that endurance athletes did not. From what this research shows about exercise physiology, the endurance athlete needs this type of training as well. They will not increase their cardiovascular health without this type of exercise. The best types of training programs integrate several types of workout and offer a well-rounded balance of training methods.

References

1. Acevedo EO, Goldfarb AH. Increased training intensity effects on plasma lactate, ventilatory threshold, and endurance. Med and Sci in Sports Exercise, (21), 563-568, 1998

2. Finn, C, Effects of High-Intensity Intermittent Training on Endurance Performance. Sportscience (5)(1), sport sci.org. Jour. 1-3, 2001.

3. Foss M.L., and Keteyian S.J. Fox's Physiological Basis for Exercise and Sport. WCB Boston, Mass., McGraw-Hill. 1998.

4. Hawley JA, Myburgh KH, Noakes TD, and Dennis, SC. Training Techniques To Improve Fatigue Resistance And Enhance Endurance Performance. Jour of Sports Sci, (15), 325-333, 1997.

5. Rodas G, Ventura JL, Cadefau JA, Cusso R, and Parra, JA Short Training Programme For The Rapid Improvement Of Both Aerobic And Anaerobic Metabolism. Eur Jour of ApPhysiology, (82), 480-486, 2000.

6. Sale DG, MacDougall JD, Jacobs I. And Garner S. Interaction Between Concurrent Strength And Endurance Training. Jourof Ap Physiology (68)1, 260-270, 1990.

7. Tabata I, Nishimura K, Kouzaki M, Hirai Y, Ogita F, Miyachi M, and Yamamoto K. Effects Of Moderate-Intensity Endurance And High-Intensity Intermittent Training On Anaerobic Capacity And VO2max. Med and Sci in Sports and Exercise, (28), 1327-1330. 1997.

8. Terbizan… [END OF PREVIEW]

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