Issue 15 | January 2012
Exercise, Energy and Movement
***Articles reviewed and updated in August 2016***
All living things move. Whether it’s a plant growing towards the sun, bacteria swimming away from a toxin or you walking home, anything alive must move to survive. For humans though, movement is more than just survival – we move for fun, to compete and to be healthy. In this issue we look at the biological systems that keep us moving and consider some of the psychological, social and ethical aspects of exercise and sport.
Browse through the individual articles and check out our discussion questions and lesson ideas. We’ve also picked out content from other issues that we think is especially relevant. This issue was first published in 2012; in 2016, all of the individual resources were reviewed and updated for accuracy and currency. Please do note, however, that the PDFs of the original 2012 issue, infographic and poster have not been updated.
Made to move
Why did humans evolve to be bipedal?
What changed when we began to walk on two legs?
Long-term low gravity can seriously affect the human body
What steps are involved in walking?
A numerical look at exercise, energy and movement
Muscles and movement
Our bodies contain three main types of muscle
Skeletal muscles are made up of two groups of muscle fibres, adapted for different functions
What causes muscle contractions?
Why diet, injury or a lack of use can all affect your muscles
Why do we sometimes move without meaning to?
How to build muscle
The heart is a muscle, which can grow with exercise
Why might exercise leave us sore?
Watch or download our animation showing muscle contraction and the sliding filament theory
We’ve chosen these images to put muscles and tendons under the microscope
Bones and the skeleton
A look at what our skeletons do
Watch or download our video of biomechanics expert Dr Sandra Shefelbine as she uses elaborate models and her own body to explain arm movement
How can our diet and exercise regimes affect the strength of our bones?
Age, diet and exercise can contribute to thinning bones
Even healthy bones can break if exposed to great enough forces
Browse our gallery of bones and skeletons to get closer to what’s inside all of us
A look at how breathing is controlled
How do we measure how much oxygen we can use?
Why feeling the rhythm can help you keep running
Is our move to two legs linked to our ability to speak?
Our lungs, our heart and the rest of our respiratory and circulatory systems are vital for getting oxygen into and around our bodies
Respiration and energy
Download a copy of our poster on respiration
Explore the structure and function of our intracellular energy factories
Take a look at the opening stages of cellular respiration
A closer look at the reactions following glycolysis, should oxygen be available
The processes of anaerobic respiration differ between animals and plants
This illustrated analogy uses money to show how bodies store different forms of energy
Fit in mind and body?
What do we need to do to be healthy?
Is the future of bone and cartilage replacement to grow your own?
Why extreme exercise can be harmful
How your thinking can affect performance
How exercise can change our mental state
Does it matter where you exercise?
This video by Tom Warrender of Classroom Medics examines body fat and VO2 max tests
Explore current and future scenarios around controlled substances in sport
Exploring current and future scenarios around artificial body parts in sport
Can we predict an ultimate limit to human performance?
Exploring a current and future scenario around diet in sport
A look at the placebo effect in performance
A look at different exercises that have become the latest craze in keeping us healthy
How much should we exercise? Why do muscles get sore? Are fitness drinks worth it? Find out the answers to these questions and more in this short video
Real Voices interviews
Meet Jennifer, a cell biologist at University College London
An interview with Ellie Simmonds – Paralympic swimmer and five-time gold medallist
Meet Mark, a sports psychologist who has worked with the England cricket team
Activities and lesson ideas
The Wellcome Trust has funded many organisations to produce activities and resources to engage and educate young people about the science of exercise
Each issue of 'Big Picture' comes with a sprinkling of Fast Facts, fascinating snippets of information on the topic covered.