Lung volume and vital capacity Respiration curves (according to A. Faller: The Human Body)
With greater exertion the respiration minute volume can increase substantially. The air volume that can be exhaled after the deepest inhalation is called the vital capacity; it is a yardstick for the physical performance capacity. The vital capacity depends on the gender, physique, disposition and not lastly on physical activity. Whereas sportsmen can have a vital capacity of 5-6 litres, with individuals leading a sedentary lifestyle and who do not exercise much it is often only half this amount.
Over and above the breath volume of V2 litres with the deepest inhalation we can inhale a further 1.5- 2 litres (= complementary volume), and with deepest exhalation we can exhale a further 1.5-2 litres (= reserve volume). But also with deepest exhalation 1.2 litres residual volume still remains in the lungs.
The total volume (= total capacity) therefore consists of the breath, the complementary, the reserve and the residual volume.
It largely depends on a well functioning circulatory system whether our body is optimally supplied with oxygen, namely on the one hand through the small or pulmonary circulation system, which continually flows through the lungs, and the large or body circulation system, which circulates throughout the whole body up to the last cell.
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If the body requires more oxygen during a work load, then more blood is mobilised as the transport medium for the oxygen, which is why when the breathing increases most often there is also a corresponding increase in cardiovascular activity. A harmonious relationship between breathing and heart rhythm (optimally 1:4, i.e. with one breath the heart beats four times) is a prerequisite for good coordination between the heart and the lungs. The more or less supportive influence on the circulation of a certain breathing type, i.e. chest or stomach, mouth or nasal breathing is quite remarkable (refer also to nasal breathing and the table The breathing types).
As a consequence of the close cooperation between breathing and circulation, breathing training and breathing therapy can at the same time have a preventive and healing effect as a training for the cardiovascular system, for example with cardiac insufficiency or vascular disorders, circulatory disorders and with elevated or abnormally low blood pressure.