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Friday, 21 September, 2001, 13:24 GMT 14:24 UK
Pupils learn tough lesson on exercise
Pupil on exercise bike
Pupils were put through their paces
Too much exercise can make you ill, school pupils taking part in a Dundee University experiment have been discovering.

The university's physiology department has been putting 80 senior school pupils through their paces to illustrate the effects that exercise has on the body.

The pupils took part in a number of practical experiments - measuring their heart rate, oxygen consumption and blood pressure - aimed to show the way the human body is affected by exercise.

And world physiology expert Professor Mike Gleeson told the pupils, from schools across Scotland, that extreme exercise can damage the immune system and make athletes susceptible to infectious diseases.

Dundee University
The University of Dundee hosted the event
Physiology is one of the basic medical sciences and deals with the normal functions of living things and how these functions are controlled.

The scope ranges from the analysis of the function of individual cells to the characteristics of whole organ systems.

It deals with how the heart beats, the control of blood pressure and how they work together to produce the integrated behaviour of the living body.

Professor Michael Rennie said: "Exercise can damage your health because you can become susceptible to infectious disease.

"The immune system can be damaged by extreme exercise.

Physiological effect

"It can happen to club athletes, but only if they are training far too much. It is more likely to affect elite athletes who do not perform well if they are overtrained."

Pupils have been hearing lectures at the university investigating whether steroid drugs that caused a major controversy at this year's World Athletics Championships in Edmonton actually have a physiological effect on athletes.

They will ask whether taking these drugs just make athletes believe that they are having an effect.

Professor Rennie said that growth hormones do not make athletes have bigger muscles.

He said that healthy people have plenty of growth hormones and taking supplements risks side-effects such as diabetes.

Degree courses

The physiological affects of anabolic steroids have also been studied.

Workshops demonstrated the diversity of physiology and provided information on degree courses at universities.

This is the fourth successive year that the University of Dundee has hosted the event, which is sponsored by the Physiological Society.

A team of experts including Dr John Leiper from the University of Aberdeen, Professor Michael Rennie from the University of Dundee and Professor Mike Gleeson from the University of Birmingham were on hand to give advice.

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 ON THIS STORY
Colin Wight reports
"Researchers are analysing how exercise affects the body"
See also:

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24 Aug 99 | Scotland
Idle to the bone?
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