Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/383

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377
STUFFY ROOMS

The pressure of the blood in the veins and arteries under the influence of gravity varies with every change of posture. The respiratory pump, too, has a profound influence on the circulation. Active exercise, such as is taken in a game of football, entails endless changes of posture, varying compressive actions—one with another struggling in the rough and tumble of the game—forcible contractions and relaxations of the muscles, and a vastly increased pulmonary ventilation; at the same time the heart's action is accelerated and augmented and the arterial supply controlled by the vaso-motor system. The influence of gravity, which tends to cause the fluids of the body to sink into the lower parts, is counteracted; the liver is rhythmically squeezed like a sponge by the powerful respiratory movements, which not only pump the blood through the abdominal viscera, but thoroughly massage these organs, and kneading these with the omentum clean the peritoneal cavity and prevent constipation. At the same time the surplus food metabolic products, such as sugar and fat, stored in the liver, are consumed in the production of energy, and the organs swept with a rapid stream of blood containing other products of muscular metabolism which are necessary to the inter-relation of chemical action. The output of energy is increased very greatly; a resting man may expend two thousand calories per diem; one bicycling hard for most of the day expended eight thousand calories, of which only four thousand was covered by the food eaten.

Such figures show how fat is taken off from the body by exercise, for the other four thousand calories comes from the consumption of surplus food products stored in the tissues. While resting a man breathes some 7 liters of air, and uses 300 c.c. of oxygen per minute, against 140 liters and 3,000 c.c. while doing very hard labor. The call of the muscles for oxygen through such waste products as lactic acid impels the formation of red corpuscles and hemoglobin. The products of muscular metabolism in other ways not yet fully defined modify the metabolism of the whole body.

Exposure to cold, cold baths and cold winds has a like effect, accelerating the heart and increasing the heat production, the activity of the muscles, the output of energy, the pulmonary ventilation and intake of oxygen and food. In contrast with the soft pot-bellied, overfed city man the hard, wiry fisherman trained to endurance has no superfluity of fat or tissue fluid. His blood volume has a high relative value in proportion to the mass of his body. His superficial veins are confined between a taut skin and muscles, hard as in a race-horse trained to perfection. Thus the adequacy of the cutaneous circulation and loss of heat by radiation rather than by sweating is assured. His fat is of a higher melting-point, hardened by exposure to cold. In him less blood is derived to other parts such as adipose tissue, skin