How Do the Circulatory and Respiratory Systems Work Together?

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The circulatory and respiratory systems work together to give the body the oxygen it needs. They also team up to get rid of carbon dioxide, which is a waste product in the body.

The Circulatory System

The circulatory system includes the heart, a major muscle in the body, and the pathways to transport blood, which are the veins and arteries. The heart has two chambers known as the left and right ventricles. The aorta is the largest artery in the body and serves like a centralized command station.

The Respiratory System

The respiratory system includes the larynx, the trachea, bronchi and the lungs. Respiration is the inhaling and exhaling of air. Air enters the body through the nose or mouth and travels down the trachea, often referred to as the windpipe. It passes by the larynx, commonly known as the voice box, to two bronchi. The bronchi are like tubes that branch out and into the lungs. Breathing allows the intake of oxygen and the circulatory system gets to work.

Oxygen fills up in the alveoli located in the lungs. The heart serves as a pump to distribute the oxygenated blood to tissues, cells and organs that rely on it for survival. The aorta opens like a doorway to release the blood from the heart to be distributed to the brain, the extremities and everything in between.

Releasing Waste Gas

Cells take in the oxygen and nutrients then dispose the remaining carbon dioxide. Exhaling releases carbon dioxide, which is a gas the body doesn’t need. It’s in with the good and out with the bad. This process is with the help of the pulmonary artery and small alveoli in the lungs that handle this gas exchange in the breathed in air.

The circulatory and respiratory system are very much in a partnership together to keep the body functioning optimally. They work efficiently in healthy bodies and one cannot function without the other.

The Role of Exercise

The two systems can adjust their pace in situations like exercise. As respiration increases the circulatory system kicks into high gear to pump blood quicker so the muscular system gets the nutrients it needs right when it needs it most. This increases the pulse rate. Exercise conditioning increases the heart’s strength since it is also a muscle. It can also increase the lungs’ capacity. High intensity and endurance exercise utilize both systems for high performance. This is the reason that most marathon runners have a low heart rate. The endurance running conditions the heart to work more efficiently and effectively. Even low intensity and short exercise routines can strengthen the circulatory and respiratory systems for long-term health benefits.

Built-in Defenses

Cilia, which are tiny hairs, linger throughout the respiratory system lining the trachea and bronchi. Mucus covers the cilia, and it assists the cilia in catching foreign particles in the air that is breathed in. This mucus-coated cilia traps the germs, pollutants and contaminants so it doesn’t go any further toward the lungs. This prevents any harm that the particles could cause the body. In turn, the body gets rid of these now sticky, trapped particles by coughing, swallowing, nose blowing and sneezing.