Thousands of chemical reactions occur throughout the body during each minute of the day. Collec-tively, these reactions are called metabolism. Metab-olism includes chemical pathways that result in the synthesis of molecules (anabolic reactions) as well as the breakdown of molecules (catabolic reactions). Since energy is required by all cells, it is not sur-prising that cells possess chemical pathways that are capable of converting foodstuffs (i.e., fats, proteins, carbohydrates) into a biologically usable form of energy.
This metabolic process is termed bioenergetics. In order for you to run, jump, or swim, skeletal muscle cells must be able to continuously extract energy from food nutrients. In fact, the inability to transform energy contained in foodstuffs into usable biological energy would limit performance in endurance activities. The explanation for this is simple. To continue to contract, muscle cells must have a continuous source of energy. When energy is not readily available, muscular contraction is not possible, and thus work must stop.
Therefore, given the importance of cellular energy production during exercise, it is critical that the student of exercise physiology develop a thorough understanding of bioenergetics. It is the purpose of this chapter to introduce both general and specific concepts associated with bioenergetics.