On April 17, I wrote an article about Energy System Fitness.
In that article, I explained how each of your body’s three energy system pathways provide energy for bodily functions.
I also explained how each energy system could be developed through exercise.
New research is showing that not only will exercise affect the function of your energy systems, it will affect the function and structure of your heart.
In a recent study (published in the Journal of Physiology) researchers have “concluded that participation in 90 days of competitive athletics produces significant training-specific changes in cardiac structure and function.”
Endurance Athletes (40 university rowers) expanded both the left and right ventricles of their hearts (bi-ventricular dilation). As well, they improved the relaxation of the heart muscle between beats (Diastolic relaxation).
In contrast, Strength Athletes (35 football players) thickened the heart muscle at the site of the left ventricle. Additionally, the football players experienced diminished diastolic relaxation.
What does this mean?
For athletes, this indicates that dramatic changes to the function of the heart’s function and structure can be achieved in a very short amount of time.
Future studies will be looking at how different exercise protocols affect both the function and structure of the heart.
For heart disease patients (and the health conscious public at-large), this study should indicate that as not all heart dysfunctions are the same, not all exercise prescriptions are the same.
Like different drugs are prescribed for different conditions, in the future unique exercise prescriptions may be dispensed based on the patient’s unique physical condition.
Take two pills and a half hour on the treadmill, and call me in the morning.