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This topic is centred on the physiological adaptations that enable animals and humans, particularly sports people, to undertake strenuous exercise. It explores the links between an animal’s physiology and its performance. The topic summarises the biochemical requirements for respiration and looks at the links between homeostasis, muscle physiology and performance. It ends by looking at how medical technology is enabling more people to participate in sport, and raising the issue of whether the use of performance-enhancing substances by athletes can be justified.
Students should be encouraged to carry out a range of practical experiments related to this topic in order to develop their practical skills. In addition to the core practicals detailed below, possible experiments include investigation of the control of ventilation rate in locusts and examination of fast and slow twitch muscles by dissection of fish muscles.
Opportunities for developing mathematical skills within this topic include solving algebraic equations, changing the subject of an equation, recognising and making use of appropriate units in calculations using appropriate significant figures and constructing and interpreting frequency tables and diagrams, bar charts and histograms.