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Exercise Physiology: Understanding the Athlete Within

Learn about the physiological responses to acute and chronic exercise and their relevance for athletic performance.


Eligible for

Statement of Accomplishment

Course at a Glance

About the Course

This course examines the physiological responses to acute and chronic exercise, with a focus on skeletal muscle, energy metabolism, the oxygen transport system and temperature and fluid balance.  The factors that limit exercise performance will be reviewed and the role of genes in determining athletic performance will be considered.  At the end of this course, you should have a better understanding of the athlete within!

Course Syllabus

Week One: Review of excitation-contraction coupling in skeletal muscle, muscle fibre types, energetics and muscle adaptations to exercise training.

Week Two: The key fuels by contracting skeletal muscle during high intensity sprint exercise through to prolonged endurance exercise.

Week Three: Cardiovascular and respiratory responses to exercise that ensure adequate oxygen delivery to contracting skeletal muscle and the determinants of maximal oxygen uptake.

Week Four: Temperature and fluid balance during exercise.

Week Five: Mechanisms of fatigue during exercise and interactions between the central nervous system and peripheral factors. Factors influencing sprint and endurance performance.

Week Six: How do genes influence athletic performance - are athletes "born or made?"

Recommended Background

Undergraduate study in human physiology.  The Coursera subject Introductory Human Physiology would provide appropriate background.

Suggested Readings

The lecture and support materials are designed to be self-contained, and there is no requirement to purchase a textbook.

However students may wish to refer to an exercise physiology textbook, of which there are many.  A well regarded text is Exercise Physiology: Theory and Applications to Fitness and Performance by Scott Powers and Edward Howley (6th Ed, McGraw-Hill).

Course Format

The class will comprise lecture videos and integrated quiz questions at the end of each module. Lecture notes and selected readings will be provided.  Optional, additional assignments can be undertaken, but the final exam is compulsory. 


Will I get a Statement of Accomplishment after completing this course?
Yes. Students who successfully complete the course will receive a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the instructor.

Do I earn University of Melbourne credits upon completion of this class?
No. The Statement of Accomplishment is not part of a formal qualification from the University. However, it may be useful to demonstrate prior learning and interest in your subject to a higher education institution or potential employer.

What resources will I need for this class?
For this course, all you need is an Internet connection and the time to read, write, discuss, and enjoy learning about exercise physiology.