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Controlling Blood Flow in Exercise

By Dillon Lim - Medicine Student @ Brasenose College, Oxford


If you were to, say, do a few squats, the blood flow to your quadriceps muscles would increase – but how does the body know to do this? The contraction of a muscle like your quadriceps not only requires a greater supply of glucose and O2 but requires a greater removal of CO2 from the tissue. If you continued exercising, it would also be important for the blood to remove lactate and cations such as H+ and K+ from the muscle. To trigger the necessary vasodilation (dilation of the blood vessels), tissues respond to different biochemical or physiological signals. Regulation of local blood flow is an important part of our body’s constant adjustment of its internal conditions to support tissue demand.