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

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6.3 The role of oxygen in sports performance

The body uses oxygen in a chemical process that produces fuel for the muscles. You might think that the transfer of oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body is vitally important for all athletes. However, you might be surprised to hear that although this process is important in many sports, it doesn't matter very much at all in quite a few. The reason for this is fairly straightforward: the transfer of oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body takes time. In events that don't last very long, such as sprints, and those that rely on instantaneous performance, like the high jump, there is not enough time for the oxygen taken in at the lungs to reach important parts of the body.

For many sports, however, and especially for endurance events, the capacity of the body to take in oxygen and efficiently transfer it throughout the body is very important.

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