Exploring sport online: Athletes and efficient hearts
Exploring sport online: Athletes and efficient hearts

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6 Athletes, oxygen and the lungs

6.1 Introduction

We have learnt that part of the reason the heart pumps blood around is to make sure that the body gets a fresh supply of oxygen. So in the same way that our hearts need to keep beating, we need to keep breathing oxygen into our lungs to survive. But what is the function of oxygen? Why does our body need oxygen, and what does it do with it once we have breathed it in? These are some of the questions that we will examine in first part of this section.

In the second part of this section, we will look at the role of oxygen and the lungs in sport. The ability to use a large amount of oxygen efficiently is one of the most important physical attributes that an athlete can have. There are also, however, some sports for which the ability to efficiently use large amounts of oxygen is not very important at all, as we shall see.

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