The Effects of Exercise on the Pulmonary Ventilation Rate

Essay by Emma_RossA, March 2004

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Respiration is the process that takes place in every living cell to make energy available to the body. Energy is vital for us to carry out many life processes such as movement and so respiration in essential to life. During respiration glucose and oxygen are used in a reaction that produces energy and gives out carbon dioxide and water as waste products. Glucose is obtained by digestion of food and oxygen is taken from the air during a process called breathing or ventilation. Pulmonary Ventilation is the term given to the movement of air in and out of the lungs; the rate of pulmonary ventilation is defined as the tidal volume multiplied by the number of breaths taken per minute. Tidal volume is the volume of air breathed in or out during one cycle of quiet breathing. There are a few different factors that can affect the pulmonary ventilation rate but the most common and often most noticeable variation in pulmonary variation rate occurs during exercise.

During normal quiet respiration, the average person breathes 15 times per minute. Breathing is controlled by movements in the thorax brought about by the contracting and relaxing of the diaphragm and the intercostals muscles. Upon inspiration the diaphragm and the external intercostals muscles contract and the internal intercostals muscles relax, moving the ribs upwards and outwards. As the volume of the thorax increases, the elastic tissue of the lungs allows them to expand and air rushes into the lungs due to pressure inside the lungs being less than the atmospheric pressure outside. During expiration the diaphragm and the external intercostals muscles relax and the internal intercostals muscles contract, moving the ribs downwards and inwards. The decrease in volume of the thorax decreases the size of the lungs and air rushes out due to the...