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Cardiovascular Fitness: Basics

Cardiovascular fitness: the ability to exercise the entire body for long periods of time.

The cardiovascular system consists of:

  • the heart
  • the blood vessels
  • the blood

Key terms:

  • Heart rate is the number of times the heart beats per minute
  • Stroke volume is the amount of blood leaving the heart each beat
  • Systolic blood pressure is the pressure when blood is being pumped out of the heart
  • Cardiac output is the total volume of blood pumped out of the heart in a minute
  • Recovery rate is the time it takes for the heart to retun to its resting rate after excercise

Immediate effects excercise has on the CV system are:

  • Increase in heart rate
  • Increase in stroke volume
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Cardiovascular Fitness: Basics

Continued immediate effects exercise has on the SV system are:

  • Increase in systolic blood pressure
  • Increased oxygen and increased removal of carbon dioxide
  • Increased rate of blood flow and therefore increased oxygen delivery

Long term effects excercise has on the CV system are:

  • Stronger heart and increase in heart size
  • Lower resting rate -  blood transported with fewer heartbeats and lower active heart rate
  • Increased VO2 max - the max amount of oxygen used in a minute per kg of body weight
  • Heart can cope with increased stress, excercise related or otherwise
  • Oxygen shunted to working muscles more efficently
  • Reduce risk of heart and coronary aretry disease

Important formulas

  • 220 - age = maximum heart rate
  • heart rate (HR) x stroke volume (SV) = cardiac output (CO)
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Cardiovascular Fitness: Function of the blood

Key terms:
Hameoglobin is found in red blood cells and transports oxygen to body tissue
Fibrinogen is a protein found in blood that helps clotting

  • Red blood cells
    Also known as erythocytes, they're are small cells in the blood, but there are many of them. 2 million are produced and destroyed in your body every second. Their main job is to carry oxygen but they also transport nutrients and waste products like carbon dioxide and salt. They're produced in boe marrow of long bones.
    Oxygen chemically attaches itself to the haemoglobin in the red blood cells to make oxyhaemoglobin. This is how oxygen is transported to working muscles of the body.
  • White blood cells
    Also known as leukocytes, their job is to protect the body against infection at its source, repair damaged tissue after an injury and destroy bacteria. When a cut or graze occurs, the white blood cells father to stop bacteria entering the body. A scab is made up of dead white blood cells. There are five types of white blood cells. The cells are producedd in the marrow of long bones and lymph tissue of the body.
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Cardiovascular Fitness: Function of the blood

  • Platelets
    These are small fragments of larger cells. They're in charge of clotting our blood. After a graze or cut, they clot at the skins surface. This happens aswell internally on small, damaged blood vessels. Clotting is important to stop blood loss from the body and stop internal bleeding.
  • Plasma
    Plasma is 90 percent water and is straw coloured. It makes up 55% of the volume of our blood. It helps blood flow more easily by using its proteins. The 10% of plasma that isn't water is a mixture of the following
    • salts
    • chlorine
    • amino acids
    • glucose
    • antibodies
    • fibringogen
    • hormes and waste products, such as urea and carbon dioxoide. (During excercise hormones like endorphines, cortisol, adrenalin and testerone are producerd and transported to the plasma.)
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Cardiovascular Fitness : Blood pressure

Key terms:

  • Blood pressure is the amount of force the blood applies on the sides of the blood vessels.
  • Diastolic blood pressure is the amount of pressure exerted against the artery walls when the heart is resting between beats.

A blood pressure reasing is:
systolic pressure ÷ diastolic pressure

What affects blood pressure? Blood pressure is affected by many things. Firstly, while excercising the systolic pressure will rise, but will fall when sleeping. Age, weight, smoking (smoking causes the blood vessels to contact, raising the blood pressure) and over time drinking alcohol. Children's blood pressure will vary according to their age, gender and height.

How can it be reduced? There's several ways: keep within the guidlines of body weight recomendations, don't smoke, avoid too much alcohol, eat less salt, avoid stressful and worrying situations and excercise regularly.

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Cardiovascular Fitness: Diet

Diet can have a bearing on blood pressure and cholesterol. A diet that is low in fat, salt & sugar but high in fruit and vegetables can reduce the risk of high blood pressure.

  • Low density lipoprotein (LDL) is mainly made up of fat and small amounts of protein. This is also known as 'bad cholesterol'. Too much LDL can cause a fatty deposit to build up in arteries, this makes blood flow more difficult and can be linked to cardiovascular disease.
  • High density lipoprotein (HDL) is mainly made up of protein and small amounts of fat. This is also known as 'good cholesterol'. This helps reduce ther amount of cholesterol building up in the artieries.

Eating regular, balanced diet can help support a healthy, active body. by eating a varied diet the body can take in all the different nutrients and vitamins required to keep it healthy and dree from long term illnesses. Eating particular foods can help keep the body in good condition and reduce the risk of health problems. To lower cholesterol levels - reduce intake of animal fats and salt and increase the intake of fibre, fruit and vegetables. To help regulate blood pressure - reduce salt and increase omega 3 essential fatty acids (which helps blood from clotting) 

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Cardiovascular Fitness: Water

The body is approximately 67% water. Maintaing this percentage is important, even a drop of only 2% will cause feelings of fatigue.


  • lubricates the joints
  • helps with digestion
  • flushes toxins out of the body
  • keeps the eyes healthy and lubricated
  • helps to keep skin healthy

When the body looses its normal percentage of water then dehydration can occur. When this happens the balance of chemicals in the body is changed. The result can be disorientation, irrational behaviour, coma and, in extreme cases, death.

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Cardiovascular Fitness: Summary

The contents of blood keep the body alive. The circulation of blood to different parts of the body is vital. Oxygen, nutrients and hormones give the tissue of the body what they need to work. Waste products such as salt, heat, water, carbon dioxide and urea are all removed from the body so it isn't poisoned.

When a person exercies, the cirulatory system needs to work faster as there is a greater demand by the muscles of oxygen. With regular exercise, the body can be trained to make these adjustments quickly and efficently.

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