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EXSC225 Physiological Bases of Exercise OR EXSC198 Physiological Bases of Exercise


EXSC242 Exercise Physiology: Adaptation to Exercise and the Environment

Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning.

Unit rationale, description and aim

The human body adapts its physiology in response to exercise training, fatigue and exposure to different environments. An understanding of the acute and chronic adaptations to these stresses and related interventions is central to exercise science practice. These knowledge and skills are consistent with the professional standards of several accreditation bodies, including those for Exercise Science. This unit will advance students' knowledge of human physiology and metabolism in the context of exercise by examining the responses and adaptation to various exercise and environmental stressors. Factors that limit performance and physiological adaptation will also be explored. The aim of this unit is to provide students with an understanding of physiological adaptation to exercise–related stressors and its application to and evaluation of human health, fitness and performance, including the ability to integrate these knowledge and skills with other sub–disciplines in exercise science practice.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Describe and compare the individual and integrated physiological responses and adaptations to acute and chronic exercise, fatigue, environmental stressors, and ergogenicsGC1, GC7, GC9, GC11
LO2Articulate the physiological bases (including assumptions and limitations) for fitness and performance testing and their interpretationGC1, GC9, GC11
LO3Apply measurement principles and techniques used in exercise physiology, utilising instruments and technologies that assist in evaluating human performance, to collect, analyse, interpret and report physiological data obtained during acute exerciseGC2, GC3, GC4, GC7, GC8
LO4Critically analyse and apply contemporary theories of exercise physiology that describe and predict responses to exercise stressGC2, GC3, GC7, GC11


Topics will include: 

  • Acute responses and chronic adaptations to exercise: 
  • Molecular bases of adaptation to exercise 
  • Neuromuscular system responses/adaptation to exercise 
  • Endocrine system responses/adaptation to exercise 
  • Immune system responses/adaptation to exercise 
  • Adaptation to exercise training – anaerobic, intermittent, strength and endurance training 
  • Adaptation to disuse and detraining conditions 
  • Environmental adaptation – e.g.: 
  • Thermoregulatory stress  
  • Hypobaric stress  
  • Hyperbaric stress 
  •  Central and peripheral fatigue  
  • Performance testing – VO2max, ventilatory threshold and lactate threshold testing 
  • Ergogenic aids, exercise performance and chronic adaptations 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

The learning and teaching strategies of this unit are designed to allow students to meet the aims, learning outcomes of the unit, graduate attributes of the University and professional accreditation standards. They are intended to reflect respect for the individual as an independent learner. Students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and to engage actively with unit content and learning activities. 

This unit uses an experiential, cooperative learning approach to actively engage students in the design and conduct of group-based laboratory projects examining the impact environmental stressors have on the physiology of performance. Laboratory sessions will be complemented with face to face and web-based learning activities focused on further developing student depth of understanding of the physiological processes related to exercise in healthy, clinical and athletic populations. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

To best enable students to demonstrate unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes, standards-based assessment is utilised, consistent with University assessment requirements. A range of assessment strategies are used including: a final exam to assess student learning of unit content; and written reports based on project work to assess application of this learning and its communication.  

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Group Written Report - Project 1  

Enables students to demonstrate their ability to describe and communicate the aims and methods of a project by working collaboratively. 


LO1, LO2, LO3

Individual Written Report - Project 2  

Enables students to demonstrate their application of knowledge and skills by designing, conducting and communicating a project and its outcomes, working both collaboratively and autonomously. 


LO2, LO3, LO4

Written Examination 

Enables students to demonstrate their understanding of unit content. 


LO1, LO2, LO4

Representative texts and references

American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) (2014). Health-Related Physical Fitness Assessment Manual (4th ed.) Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins 

American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) (2018). Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription (9th ed.). Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams. 

Australian Institure of Sport, Tanner R and Gore C, (2013) Physiological tests for elite athletes (2nd ed.). Champaign: Human Kinetics. 

Astrand, P.O., Rodahl, K., Dahl, H.A., Stomme, S.B. (2003) Textbook of Work Physiology: Physiological Bases of Exercise (4TH ed.). Champaign IL: Human Kinetics. 

Coombes and Skinner (2014) ESSA student manual for health, exercise and sport assessment. Mosby and ESSA. 

McArdle, W.D., Katch, F.I., & Katch, V.L. (2014). Exercise Physiology: Energy, Nutrition and Human Performance (8th ed.). Baltimore, MD: Lippincott William and Wilkins. 

Tipton, C.M. (Ed.). (2012). ACSM's Advanced Exercise Physiology (2nd ed.)Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins 

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