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Circulatory Fitness

In stamina activities, endurance increases out of all proportion to the increase in muscle bulk. Circulatory and muscle efficiency improve greatly with little need for increase in muscle size to accomplish the added work. Improved muscular coordination and greater circulatory supply of calories and oxygen to the muscles result in better performance.

If the circulation, that is to say, the pumping of blood through the muscle capillaries, increases with increasing levels of fitness, then measurements of circulatory abilities should indirectly reflect fitness itself. The flexibility of heart, lung, and circulation is well demonstrated by oxygen delivery from the atmosphere to the muscles.

This is essential for good health and as your circulatory fitness improves through exercise, you will find that exercising becomes easier.

At rest approximately 250 cc. of oxygen is consumed per minute. During endurance activities (and without incurring an “oxygen debt” this jumps to 4,000 cc. Many tests to measure circulatory or cardiovascular function are widely used.

The Schneider Test has six components, four of which can easily be measured by the non-M.D. sportsman. Reclining pulse rate: The subject should recline comfortably for 5 minutes and have his heart rate (pulse) counted each minute until 2 consecutive counts are the same. Standing pulse rate: The subject should stand for 2 minutes and then have his heart rate counted until 2 readings agree. Increase in pulse rate on standing: Subtract reclining from standing pulse rate. Recovery of pulse rate after exercise: The subject steps up on a chair or bench 18.5 inches high 5 times in 15 seconds. Then continuously record pulse rate until it has returned to the normal standing pulse rate. If the pulse rate is not back to normal in 2 minutes, calculate the number of beats above normal.

The Harvard Step Test is equally simple. The subject steps up and down 30 times a minute on a 20-inch bench for 5 minutes unless he must stop sooner because of exhaustion. He then immediately sits on a chair. After 1 minute he has his pulse counted for 1/2 minute; after 2 minutes he again counts his pulse for 1/2 minute; and after 3 minutes he once more takes a count for 1/2 minute. His Physical Efficiency Index (PEI) is then calculated:

PEI = duration of exercise in seconds × 100 ÷ sum of pulse counts in recovery × 2

For example, if the subject lasted out the full 5 minutes, he exercised 300 seconds. If his recovery pulse rates were 80 for 1-1 ½ minutes, 60 for 2-2½ minutes, and 40 for 3-3½ (for a sum of 180), his formula would show:

PEI= (300 x 100) ÷ (180 x 2) = 84

This indeed would be an exceptionally high PEI for a man after the age of thirty. As applied to college students, the scale of fitness is:
excellent = above 90
good = 80-89
high average = 65-79
low average = 55-64
poor physical condition = below 55

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