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Aerobic Respiration and the Heart Rate

author image Chris Dinesen Rogers
Chris Dinesen Rogers has been online marketing for more than eight years. She has grown her own art business through SEO and social media and is a consultant specializing in SEO and website development. Her past work experience includes teaching pre-nursing students beginning biology, human anatomy and physiology. Rogers's more than 10 years in conservation makes her equally at home in the outdoors.
Aerobic Respiration and the Heart Rate
Aerobic respiration provides fuel to support your cardio exercise.

If you have engaged in intense exercise, you likely have experienced the link between aerobic respiration and heart rate. Your heart rate is the number of beat per minute, measured by your pulse. The harder you work, the higher your heart rate will rise. Your heart and circulatory system will deliver oxygen and remove wastes quicker the higher your heart rate is, showing the relationship between these two processes.

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Aerobic Respiration

To fuel any activity, your body requires energy and sugar. Aerobic respiration at the cellular level occurs in the presence of oxygen. When you breathe, your body transports oxygen via red blood cells and oxygen-containing proteins to your cells. Aerobic respiration is a chemical process that uses sugar in your bloodstream to produce energy. This process can also occur when cells are depleted of oxygen; however, it is not as efficient at producing energy, according to Gerard Tortora, author of "Principles of Anatomy and Physiology."

Role of the Heart

The heart plays a vital role in aerobic respiration by distributing oxygen. The more intensely you work out, the harder your heart will work, thus increasing the heart rate. The body of a seasoned athlete is adapted to carry oxygen more efficiently, thus prolonging aerobic respiration, Tortora explains. The oxygen-carrying capacity of one who works out regularly is greater than a non-athletic. The amount of sugar in your blood is limited before your body must break down sugar stores in the muscles and liver, resorting to energy production, which is not nearly as efficient, according to Tortora.


Oxygen and sugar are limiting factors in aerobic respiration. When you work out regularly, the body adapts by increasing blood proteins and red blood cells. The cellular organelles responsible for energy production also increase. Other changes include an increase in capillaries within your lungs, increasing the surface area of gas exchange. As your heart beats, blood is forced through your circulatory systems to your muscles where aerobic respiration occurs, according to


Aerobic exercise benefits your cardiovascular, skeletal and respiratory systems by making them more efficient. To get the most out of aerobic respiration, you will need to exercise within your target heart zone. The University of Maryland Medical Center explains that this zone is within 50 to 75 percent of your maximum heart rate. A 2010 study in the "Journal of the American Medical Association" found that women could prevent weight gain if they engaged in moderately intensive activity about an hour daily, most days of the week.


Aerobic activity is an essential component of a fitness program, according to the American Council on Exercise. You will lose and maintain a healthy weight through activity that maximizes calorie burn. Because aerobic respiration is so efficient, you have the energy necessary to work out longer and harder. Your heart rate is a good way for you to gauge the intensity of your activity for maximum health benefits.

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