The Body - Aspects of Fitness

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Physical Fitness: Cardiorespiratory Endurance


Cardiorespiratory endurance is the ability of the heart and lungs to work continuously for a period of time.

  • To improve your cardiorespiratory endurance you need to work for long intervals at a low level of intensity. You need a lot of oxygen to supply working muscles. This means you will be working aerobically.
  • Anaerobic activity, by contrast, occurs when there is a shortage of oxygen. When you are working to improve your anaerobic fitness you need to work for short intervals at a high level of intensity.
  • Aerobic or anaerobic activity leads to differences in your pulse, breathing and body temperature.

i.e An aerobic activity would be jogging, your pulse would be around 120-170 beats per minute, your breathing around 30 breaths a minute and your body temperature above average.
An anaerobic activity such as sprinting, would increase your pulse rate to around 180-200 beats per minute, your breathing wouldn't have much effect as the exercise is for a short time and your body temperature wouldn't change much as the sprinting is only for a short time. 

The Effects of Cardiorespiratory Endurance on Performance

Advantages of good cardiorespiratory endurance:

  • In activities where you take part for relatively long periods of time improved cardiorespiratory endurance provides you with the chance to perform better. 
  • This is because you are able to carry out skills and concentrate better if you are able to cope with the endurance demands of activities.
  • When you are tired (fatigued) mistakes are more likely to occur.

In hockey for example good cardiorespiratory endurance means that skill level remains high throughout the entire game. In Rugby, good cardiorespiratory endurance means that one can make offensive attacking runs throughout the entire game. Or in Life-saving situations such as being a life-guard, good cardiorespiratory endurance means that one can complete long demanding rescues.

Measuring Cardiorespiratory Endurance

The test for cardiorespiratory endurance is the Cooper test, which is 12 minutes continuous running to cover as much distance as possible.
Or the Multistage Fitness Test is a progressive shuttle run between 2 cones 20 metres apart, keeping in time to audio signals. The audio signals begin slowly but become progressively faster each minute. 

Monitoring the Effectiveness of Cardiorespiratory Endurance Training

  • You can monitor your progress when exercising by checking your pulse regularly.
  • Remember that a simple way to check your heart rate during exercise is to pause and take your pulse for 6 seconds. Multiply your total for 6 seconds by 10 to get your heart rate per minute.
  • Pulse rate information is useful for working out your resting pulse rate, your highest pulse rate and your recovery rate after exercise.
  • Pulse rate information is also useful for working out whether you are working aerobically or anaerobically. This involves working out your training zone for aerobic exercise.

How to Calculate Your Training Zone

The harder you exercise, the faster your heart beats. This means that your maximum heart rate is an indicator of how you are exercising


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