Playing Basketball & Its Effect on The Cardio Respiratory System

Two young men playing basketball

Basketball requires fierce cardiac output. The best fit players can sustain the high demand for stamina without succumbing to fatigue in the final minutes of a game. Basketball endurance is the determinant factor for failure and success. A player encounters intense cardio respiratory stress during a game. It’s pivotal for the body to naturally receive sufficient oxygen for the muscles being used to perform well on the court. A game-starter typically doesn’t experience a ton of rest time, which is why it’s critical to maintain a high level of endurance to outperform the competition.

Cardio Respiratory Fitness

Cardio respiratory fitness refers to the level of efficiency with which the body is able to supply sufficient oxygen to working muscles during intense exercise, and how effectively those muscles are able to absorb oxygen to generate the energy necessary to compete. Cellular respiration converts energy stored in the body into adenosine triphosphate -- ATP -- energy that is used to fuel working muscles. The body’s natural ability to complete this chemical process is the product of your aerobic energy system. VO2max is a calibrated measurement of the maximum amount of oxygen that your body is physically able to consume to generate energy for working muscles. It essentially determines overall cardio respiratory fitness level.

Cardiac Output

Cardiac output determines the amount of blood the body pumps through the heart in one minute. This is calculated by multiplying heart rate by stroke volume. The average adult holds 5 liters of blood in the body. High endurance athletes who raise their heart rates to 165 beats per minute during cardiovascular exercise will pump 20 to 40 liters of blood through the heart per minute, according to Sports Fitness Advisor. This means the body’s blood supply will travel through the heart at least four times per minute.

Overload Principle

Basketball is considered a Group III cardio respiratory activity, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. This means basketball demands both specific skill requirements and cardiovascular intensity levels. If you want to improve cardio respiratory fitness, you need to subject yourself to added intensity levels of cardiac output. This is called the overload principle, which suggests an athlete will not build endurance unless increasing the difficulty of cardio respiratory training. Intensity, duration and frequency are the three components of the principle.

Endurance Training

Heart rate drastically increases during cardiovascular exercise. Endurance training increases blood volume and accelerates blood flow. Heart rate levels off after peak intensity is reached during cardiovascular exercise, like basketball. This is called steady-state heart rate. It occurs when the natural demand for oxygen in working muscles is met by the cardio respiratory system. High endurance athletes need to aim to achieve a static level of heart rate to boost overall stamina. Long distance running and wind sprints are effective training exercises to increase cardio respiratory fitness.