Respiratory System

  • Susan Krauss Whitbourne


When the respiratory system is operating efficiently, oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged in the lungs in such a way that the blood is adequately perfused with oxygen and rid of carbon dioxide. In order for this exchange to take place, the lungs must perform their bellowslike function of sequentially filling and emptying air into and out of the alveoli (air sacs) through the airways at a rate that matches the rate at which blood flows through the pulmonary capillaries that interface with the alveoli. It has been shown that in later adulthood, there is a reduction of the amount of oxygen that is taken up from the blood during aerobic exercise. The aging of the respiratory system structures has the additional effect of lowering the efficiency of gas exchange in the lungs. The effect of aging in the respiratory system therefore compounds the limitations on the ability to perform muscular work caused by the changes in the cardiovascular and muscular systems.


Exercise Training Chest Wall Respiratory System Lung Volume Vital Capacity 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan Krauss Whitbourne
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Massachusetts at AmherstAmherstUSA

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