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Exploring sport online: Athletes and efficient hearts

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We all know that the heart is very important but what exactly does the heart do? Why is the blood so important? What functions do the lungs perform? In this free course, Exploring sport online: Athletes and efficient hearts, we will try to provide at least a basic understanding so we can answer these questions and begin to understand why knowing about the heart is important for all sports people. Before that we will take a look at the human body.

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • understand how the body works in a scientific sense, and that a scientific view is necessary for us to study how performance in sport is linked to performance of the body
  • explain the function of the heart briefly and looks at the importance of healthy hearts in sport, by looking at athletes and efficient hearts
  • understand the topics of blood and blood flow
  • understand the role of oxygen and the lungs and how they affect the sporting performance of an athlete, by looking at athletes, oxygen and the lung.

By: The Open University

  • Duration 5 hours
  • Updated Friday 18th March 2016
  • Introductory level
  • Posted under Sport and Fitness
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Exploring sport online: Athletes and efficient hearts


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With the announcement of the summer Olympics coming to London in 2012, fierce competition between football clubs in the domestic league, and developments in coaching and training throughout all areas of physical fitness, there has never been a better time to learn more about sport. Many of us take for granted what we know about sport, whether we participate or spectate. But have you ever thought about delving deeper, to find out more about the sport you follow in particular and how it fits into ideas about sport more generally? This course is the ideal place to start.

Sport and science have become increasingly interlinked in recent years. We need only to think of an Olympic team – which used to be mostly made up of athletes but now is likely to include a squad of almost equal size comprising non-athletic staff such as specialist coaches, trainers, sports psychologists and nutritionists – to realise how science is now a major part of sport. Elite athletes in all sports now spend a large amount of their training time with these types of specialist staff to ensure that their bodies and minds are prepared for competition in as scientific a manner as possible. Away from the elite level, there is also an increasing awareness of the benefits of a sound scientific basis to sport, training and even just basic health. Many ordinary people training in local sports centres and gymnasiums can name all their major muscle groups, know the training procedures needed to strengthen these muscles, and are aware of the effect on their bodies of the types of food and drink they consume.

In this course you will look at how sport can be understood from a scientific perspective, focussing on specific details while maintaining a broad overview of the subject using examples from many different sports such as running, athletics, cycling and swimming to illustrate the different ways in which sport and science interact.

This OpenLearn course provides a sample of level 1 study in Health & Wellbeing [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

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