A Change of Heart

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A Change of Heart

Abby Collins, Staff Writer

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In a culture where grabbing fast food for a meal is a natural reflex, it has become increasingly important that Americans become concerned about heart health. Cardiovascular disease currently remains the leading cause of death, and this trend is projected to continue as time progresses. However, Americans can implement certain practices into their lives that have been scientifically proven to reduce the risk of heart disease. Eliminating unhealthy foods and destructive habits like smoking is crucial to achieving this optimal lifestyle, but the most frequently recommended, emphasized application is physical activity. Daily aerobic exercise, which increases your heart rate, is training for the heart to function properly as it pumps blood throughout the body. Like any other muscle, it is made stronger with consistent exposure to stress. However, cardiovascular exercise does not merely refine the heart’s abilities; it can change the way a human heart performs.

Recently, researchers at the University of Guelph in Canada published their findings from an intriguing study, involving the cardiovascular conditions of world-class athletes. The study focused on two groups of professionals: runners and swimmers. It is no secret that both groups of athletes enjoy enviable heart health. In order to achieve their exceptional abilities, competitive runners and swimmers endure constant intensive training of the cardiovascular system; both train to expand their aerobic capacity. However, runners and swimmers shape their hearts to perform in different activities. This caused researchers to seek after the differences in the hearts of these athletes.

During the study, the hearts of world-class swimmers and runners, male and female, were examined after twelve hours of inactivity. While the findings showed that all of the athletes shared similar robust hearts, consistent differences were found, setting the groups apart. “While all of the athletes’ left ventricles filled with blood earlier than average and untwisted more quickly during each heartbeat, those desirable changes were amplified in the runners. Their ventricles filled even earlier and untwisted more emphatically than the swimmers’ hearts did” (Reynolds 13). As a result, it was concluded that the runners’ hearts allowed the movement of blood to occur faster, most likely because of the posture of runners in comparison to swimmers. Runners’ hearts must work to fight gravity, as they perform in a vertical position. Swimmers, on the other hand, perform horizontally, which shapes the heart differently. This fact does not mean that runners have better hearts than swimmers, but instead, their hearts are distinct. Therefore, experts concluded that cross-training on occasion could allow athletes to further the abilities of their cardiovascular system, and for all people, these sports can transform heart health.

 

 

Works Cited
Reynolds, Gretchen. “The Heart of a Swimmer vs. the Heart of a Runner.” The New York Times, 3 Apr. 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/03/well/move/heart-health-swimming-running-exercise.html.
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