Arousal is 'the energised state or the readiness for action that motivates a performer to behave in a particular way' (Physical Education and Sport for A-level Honeybourne, Hill, and Moors). This energised state can be caused by an individual or team competing in an important competition. High levels of arousal are produced by placing our bodies under any form of physiological or psychological stress; this can in turn affect both information processing and the actual performance. Arousal can be measured by its physiological effects.

The arousal theories suggest that our bodies need to be in a state of homeostasis (physiological and psychological balance). If the body is affected or deprived (put under stress- perceived or actual) in any way physiologically or psychologically then arousal levels in the body are increased and we are motivated to behave in such a way as to reduce these levels back to optimum level of arousal. Increased arousal can be measured by the typical physiological reactions i.e. heart rate, blood pressure, electronical activity, electromyography, galvanic skin responses and biomechanical indicators such as adrenaline and epinephrine.

It is dependent upon what sport is being played as to what level of arousal will optimise their performance. The performers in sports such as swimming, football, weightlifting, or running should have a higher level of arousal, as the performer thrives on aggression, determination etc. particularly in weightlifting. However in sports such as golf, lower arousal is needed, as the body needs to be relaxed and the mind alert, in order to optimise performance.
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When preparing for a highly active performance (race) and high arousal is to be met, the body needs to ensure that it can meet all the physiological demands that may be placed on it, e.g.

> Muscles- need to be supplied with blood sugars and oxygen etc.

> The sympathetic system of the autonomous nervous system (ANS) i.e. the glands, hormonal and endocrine systems (help prepare and maintain body for action).

> Parasympathetic of the ANS- works to restore the body's resources for future use.

> The reticular activating system (RAS) - part of ...

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