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Physiology of Exercise sample essay

The deluge of exercise and health books in book shops and health foods in groceries is a clear indicator that people are serious about their wellbeing. People are shelling out money to buy food that contains antioxidants, monounsaturated fats and plant compounds, swapping their sugar-enriched cereal for whole grains, all in the hope to slash their risk for heart diseases, cancer, and diabetes. Moreover, lifestyle measures are given a make-over. We now see more people in sweats armed with pedometers, jogging every morning. Gyms are no longer just home to body-building enthusiasts but also those who simply just want to lower their risk of cardiovascular diseases by sweating it out. One may even employ the services of a professional trainer. For others, an exercise physiologist would make a better partner.

An exercise physiologist is different from a personal trainer, in the sense that the former has graduated with a degree in exercise physiology or has passed the Board Certified Exercise Physiologists exam (“Exercise Physiology” 2007). A personal trainer has neither. So what does an exercise physiologist do? More precisely, what is exercise physiology?

To further define exercise physiology, it would be better to break down the terms- exercise and physiology. Exercise is any activity done that requires physical effort. For instance, walking is a form of exercise for it requires the use of legs and feet to do so. Doing any form of exercise is crucial in contributing to a person’s wellness for it does various positive effects on one’s body such as weight loss, increase of metabolism by burning energy, staves off depression by stimulating endorphins (which sends a signal to the brain, emitting sense of control to the person), unclogs the blood vessel, thus preventing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, which in turn may lead to heart diseases (Roizen and Oz 144-145).

Physiology, on the other hand, pertains to the study of functions of living organism. It serves as the basis of studying fundamental systems. Exercise physiology, therefore, deals not just with the biological aspect of exercise but also the processes that affect the function of human organ systems (“Exercise Physiology” 2007). Additionally, exercise physiology studies how exercise affects one’s nutrition and energy (McArdle, Katch and Katch 79).

It is aimed to improve one’s health. For example, a person with cardiovascular problem comes in for a cardiovascular training. The exercise physiologist would then explore the person’s lifestyle, conduct biological and experimental variability using heart rates, and see how the heart responds to exercise. This ensures that the treatment would target the problematic cardiovascular system.

Exercise physiology provides answers to specific questions through systematic investigation. Not a single organ system is ignored. It is like tearing apart a gadget to know and understand how each part is related, to identify how the gadget works and be able to put them back together in case it gets broken. The body system is a complex, interconnected system that if one system is waving a red flag, the other system, would, in one way or another, get affected, like a domino effect. Engaging in exercise physiology enables treatment of the red flags while identifying possible solutions to avoid the domino effect, too.

Exercise physiology targeted at the cardiovascular system is common. Heart diseases rank number one among cause of death in American women (Chesnutt 72). A silent killer, cardiovascular-related illnesses contribute to the death of 267,000 every year, equivalent to 43 %( 72). And that is just for women alone. The danger of cardiovascular diseases is that symptoms are subtle that people usually mistake it for the occasional fatigue. Thus, it is important to increase one’s cardiovascular stamina.

Cardiovascular exercises do not merely lower blood pressure and burns calories, they also enables the heart to function better (Roizen and Oz 147). The cardiovascular system is responsible for bringing oxygen and other nutrients in the body’s tissue, flushing carbon dioxide and substances to other parts of the body like lungs and liver (Suleman 2007). In a cardiovascular system targeted exercise, six physiological aspects are considered: heart rate, stroke volume, cardiac output, blood flow, blood pressure and blood (“Cardiovascular System” 2007).

The heart rate increases as the training intensifies (“Cardiovascular System” 2007). Increasing exercise intensity leads to the attainment of the maximum heart rate (2007).The maximum heart rate is projected using the formula 220-age (2007). However, if the intensity remains constant, the heart rate would start becoming steady, a condition which is also known as steady-state heart rate (2007). This happens when the cardiovascular system is able to meet the demands of the active tissues (2007).

Stroke volume, or the amount of blood that is expelled per beat from the left ventricle, also increases as the training intensifies (2007). It may reach up to 110-120ml/beat from the average 50-70m/beat (2007).

Another important factor that needs to be measured in the exercise physiology of the cardiovascular system is the cardiac output. Cardiac output pertains to the amount of blood that the heart pumps in one minute (2007). It is the result of the stroke volume and the heart and is computed as SV x HR (2007).

It is also important to check the blood flow during an exercise. When the training intensifies, circulating blood shoots up to 85% of cardiac output (“Cardiovascular System” 2007).

The blood pressure is likewise measured before and after taking an exercise. Systolic pressure increases when the exercise intensifies (“Cardiovascular System” 2007). Diastolic pressure, on the other hand, roughly stays more or less the same (2007).

Exercises cause an increase in the blood volume. Dr. Fick, a noted cardiovascular physiologist, drafted a formula in determining the rate of oxygen consumption (VO2) by computing the cardiac output (Q) and arterial-venous oxygen difference (a-v O2 diff); the resulting formula is as follows- VO2=Q x a-v O2diff (“Cardiovascular System” 2007).

Exercise-related measurements differ with men and women (Suleman 2006). Thus, it is important to have an exercise physiologist on hand to guide. Age is also a factor in changes in exercise physiology (“Exercise Physiology” 2007). A decrease in functional capacity occurs when one ages (2007).

The staggering increase of diseases around the world has put physiology of exercise in the core. It is not enough to simply comprehend the physiological mechanisms of exercise; an exercise physiologist is also the battle front in promoting health and wellness in the society (Boone 2002). The American Society of Exercise Physiologists (ASEP) for instance, has an ASEP Code of Ethics and the Exercise Physiologist’ Standards of Practice which board certified exercise physiologists have to follow (“Exercise Physiologist” 2007).

While the certification is relatively new, exercise physiologists are confident that they would be recognized as healthcare professionals in the future (2007). Exercise physiologists are working at differentiating themselves from trainers and fitness instructors. One thing that would help them achieve this goal is through awareness.

If people are aware that there are licensed professionals that would not jus prescribe training workouts but would also study the biological effects of in on our bodies, there is a wider opportunity for them to see these certified exercise physiologists rather than go to a gym trainer. There should not be discrimination between the two for each has his own expertise. Exercise physiologist and gym trainers should not compete, though. What is important is for people to have – choices in selecting how they would go into a regimen of physical activity.

Works Cited

Boone, Tommy. “Image of Exercise Physiology: Influences of ASEP and its Leadership.”

Professionalization of Exercise Physiologists Online. 17 November 2007.

Chesnutt, Jane. (Ed). “Heart Disease by the Numbers.” Woman’s Day. March 2007: 72.

McArdle, William, Frank Katch and Victor Katch.Essentials of Exercise Physiology. (3rd Ed.)

USA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2005.

Roizen, Michael and Mehmet Oz. You on a Diet the Owner’s Manual for Waist

Management. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006.

Suleman, Amer. “Exercise Physiology.” eMedicine.com.17 November 2007.

“The Cardiovascular System and Exercise.” Sport-fitness-advisor.com. 17 November 2007

“What is Exercise Physiology?” Asep.org. 17 November 2007.

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