A2 Biology: The effects of too much exercise

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  • Created on: 30-03-13 11:42
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The effects of too much exercise
Suppression of the immune system
There is some evidence of a correlation between intense exercise and the risk of infection such as colds and sore throats.
This could be caused by an increased exposure to pathogens, or a suppression of the immune system.
The number and activity of natural killer cells, phagocytes, B cells and T helper cells falls during recovery after vigorous activity.
The decrease in T helper cells reduces the amount of cytokines available to activate lymphocytes. This in turn reduces the quantity of antibody
An inflammatory response occurs in muscles due to damage to muscle fibres caused by heavy exercise (may reduce the non-specific
immune response)
However, the effects of intense exercise could be due to the psychological stress due to heavy training and competition.
Both physical exercise and psychological stress cause secretion of hormones e.g. adrenaline and cortisol which can suppress the immune system.
Also, the higher infection rate could be due to increased exposure to pathogens e.g. around lots of people at events.
Wear and tear on joints
Knees are particularly susceptible to wear and tear injuries. The problems include the following:
The articular cartilage wears away so the bone may grind on each other, causing damage leading to inflammation and a form of arthritis.
Patellar tendonitis occurs when the kneecap does not glide smoothly across the femur due to the damage of the cartilage.
The bursae (fluid sacs that cushion points of contact between bones, tendons and ligaments) can swell up with extra fluid. They could push
against other tissues in the joint causing inflammation and tenderness.
Sudden twisting or abrupt movements of the knee joint often result in damage to the ligaments.


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