Respiratory Physiology

Summary and Objectives

The process of respiration during exercise can be thought of as a system designed to get oxygen to tissue and expel CO2 from the body as efficiently as possible. There are several mechanisms involved in this control, and this module will focus on the functioning of respiratory system.

By the end of this self-study module, you will be able to:
1) Define the factors that affect the diffusion of gas from alveoli to the pulmonary capillary
2) Differentiate partial pressure of oxygen (PaO2), oxygen saturation (SaO2) and oxygen content (CaO2)
3) Describe the general structure of hemoglobin and how the behavior of hemoglobin affects the oxy-hemoglobin dissociation curve
4) Define the factors that affect the oxy-hemoglobin dissociation curve (the Bohr effect)
5) Define the speed at which gas exchange occurs in a healthy lung
6) Describe the factors that control ventilation at rest and during an acute bout of exercise
7) Describe the changes in minute ventilation and lung volumes with an acute bout of exercise

 At the end of the module, you can do a quiz to test your respiratory physiology knowledge (not for grades!) to assess which areas you know and which you need to review.


• Katch, McArdle & Katch. Chapter 9: The Pulmonary System & Exercise. Essentials of Exercise Physiology. 4th Edition. Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia, 2011.

• McArdle, Katch and Katch. Chapters 12 to 14. Exercise Physiology: Energy, Nutrition and Performance. 6th Edition. Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia, 2007.