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Unit 2 - Effects of Exercise

In this GCSE Biology quiz we look at some of the effects exercise has on our bodies, such as an increase to the cardiovascular system's work rate or the build up of lactic acid due to anaerobic respiration.

Regular exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle as it has many beneficial effects on the body. It helps you to control your weight; improves your cardiovascular fitness (the cardiovascular system comprises your heart and blood vessels) which means you have more stamina and are generally less tired; it strengthens your muscles and tendons; makes your bones tougher... and a lot more besides.

When you are exercising, it has a number of physical effects on the body, all because of increased respiration as your muscle cells are working harder. Your body needs to make adjustments to meet this increased demand for oxygen and glucose by the respiring muscles.

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You will first notice that your heart rate increases as you start to exercise. This increases the volume of blood reaching the muscles each second. More glucose molecules and oxygen molecules enter your muscle cells than when you are not exercising so they are able to release energy (through aerobic respiration) at a faster rate. Soon after you have begun to exercise, you will then find that you are breathing faster and more deeply. This is because the oxygen reserves in your blood are being used up faster than when you are at rest. By taking in more air to your lungs more often, your body can deliver more oxygen to the hard working cells. It also means that your body is able to rid itself of the waste carbon dioxide at a faster rate too.

If you exercise very hard for longer periods of time, your body cannot supply sufficient oxygen to the muscle cells. The cells will then try to make up for this shortfall of oxygen by using anaerobic respiration. But this is a poor way of releasing energy and so your muscles start to feel fatigued. During anaerobic respiration, lactic acid is formed which can lead to cramp.

Exercise your brain by playing this quiz on the effects of exercise on the body's systems and muscles!

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  1. During exercise, what happens to the heart rate?
    Before exercise, it is advisable to spend time 'warming up' so that your heart rate increases gradually
  2. The rate and depth of breathing increases during exercise. This is in order to give the muscles more of what?
    Oxygen is required for aerobic respiration
  3. Which type of the blood vessel supplies blood to the muscles?
    Arteries carry oxygenated blood round the body. They split to form blood capillaries with thin walls that allow the oxygen to pass out of the blood to the individual muscle cells
  4. Which type of the blood vessel removes blood from the muscles?
    Capillaries take lactic acid and carbon dioxide from the muscle cells into the veins, away from the muscle cells
  5. Which of the following statements is true of the blood leaving the muscles during exercise?
    This is a waste product from aerobic respiration
  6. Which of the following is a waste product of muscles respiring anaerobically?
    Lactic acid makes muscles tired and sore after prolonged exercise. It is produced when oxygen levels are low
  7. What do muscle cells break down in order to release energy?
    The body can break this down during exercise to increase the concentration of glucose in the blood
  8. Blood supply to the respiring muscles increases during exercise. This is to supply the muscles with more of what?
    Glucose is the 'fuel' that is oxidised during aerobic respiration
  9. When muscles are deprived of oxygen, how do they respire?
    This only releases a small amount of energy so your muscles feel tired and don't function as well as they do during aerobic respiration
  10. Which of the following is the stored form of glucose, found in the liver and muscles?
    Glucose cannot be stored as glucose so your body converts it into glycogen

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