Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 36
  1. #1
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    2,529

    Does cycling increase the size of the heart? and if so, is it bad long term?

    Cyclists have large hearts. But what does the medical world say about a large heart? Is this a bad thing as you get older? say in your 50 and 60?

  2. #2
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: bikerjulio's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    4,309
    I don't know the answer, but have a similar interest. I have been a serious runner, then cyclist for many years now. No obvious problems. My reading of the literature is a inconclusive.
    Last edited by bikerjulio; 07-21-2013 at 03:51 PM.
    There's sometimes a buggy.
    How many drivers does a buggy have?

    One.

    So let's just say I'm drivin' this buggy...
    and if you fix your attitude you can ride along with me.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GekiIMh4ZkM

  3. #3
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: sdeeer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    994
    I am not trained (formally) in cardiac physiology.

    O'keefe recently published this: http://download.journals.elsevierhea...9612004739.pdf

    There was (obviously) some back lash about it.

    I can't find the others but this is one: James O?Keefe on exercise: prescient or premature? Alert & Oriented

    And more here: The Athlete's Heart Blog: Don't Stop Running Yet!

    My bottom line take home point....If you are doing it simply for the health of it, taking it to the extremes is not optimal.

    But if you are like me....The limits of human physiology are there to explore. And I am competitive, so I will do what it takes (within reason) to show up on race day at my best.
    "The lower limit of dietary carbohydrate compatible with life apparently is zero, provided that adequate amounts of protein and fat are consumed."......http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?reco...10490&page=275

    Feel free to PM me nutrition questions. I will answer them if I have time.....

  4. #4
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Posts
    18,978
    Quote Originally Posted by aclinjury View Post
    Cyclists have large hearts. But what does the medical world say about a large heart? Is this a bad thing as you get older? say in your 50 and 60?
    Enlarged heart in a non-athlete is generally a bad thing. Enlarged heart in an athlete is generally a good thing. Nothing is 100%.

  5. #5
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    2,529
    Quote Originally Posted by Kerry Irons View Post
    Enlarged heart in a non-athlete is generally a bad thing. Enlarged heart in an athlete is generally a good thing. Nothing is 100%.
    But the body of an athlete in his 50s/60s can't have capacity to compensate and resiliency as when he was in his 20s. I wonder if the heart will also shrink to match his decreased workload. If the heart stays enlarged, then is this something to be concerned about?

  6. #6
    Master debator.
    Reputation: nOOky's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    7,074
    I have a history of heart issues and have cycled through all of them. What Kerry said is basically it. If you are concerned your doctor can tell a lot from a simple exam, if you're really concerned a treadmill test and an echo-cardiogram can tell you much.
    You can do damage to your heart and body of course from too much exercise, especially if you do it repeatedly and don't allow your body to ever recover. I think most recreational cyclists are probably safe. The heart is a muscle, and being enlarged from exercise like any other muscle is good, being enlarged from having to beat rapidly to feed an overweight out of shape body is bad.
    "I felt bad because I couldn't wheelie; until I met a man with no bicycle"

  7. #7
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    2,529
    According to the article by Sdeeer, the "athlete's heart" (enlarged heart) may not regress once the athlete stops competition

    in elite athletes, cardiacdimensions do not completely regress to normal levels
    even several years after the athlete has retired from
    competition and heavy ET.
    I know a guy here who has a very good cyclist, has a very high VO2max, basically his heart seems healthy based on his cardio. Then one day he developed some sort of irregular heart beat. He went to the cardiologist, they ran all sort of tests on him over period of weeks. Nothing came back conclusive. The tests did indicate that there some sort of damage to his heart as blood biopsy showed something in the blood related to the heart being repaired (hence it was damaged). I dont' remember the exact detail. The cardiologist never gave him a definite causal, and just told him to take 2 months off training completely. He did that, and now he's back to training hard again. But he's always wondering if the condition would come back because they never figured it out why it happened in the 1st time around.

  8. #8
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: David Loving's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    1,726
    I'm not a racer. I'm 69 years old and cycle as a fitness thing - and for recreation. I've been a rider a long, long time. I had a gall stone attack last week and have to have an EKG before they can take the gall stones, and the gall bladder that makes, them out. So I had an imaging clinic do one - an RN who had not done one in a year did mine and they sent it to my primary care physician. Turns out something is "abnormal" and I see a cardiologist tomorrow. I'm praying that the RN caused the "abnormality". I'll ask him if cycling and working out for a lifetime has finally caught up with me, and report back. At my age one must expect the unexpected with health issues.
    Waxahachie, Texas
    Biciclette Gios

    "She loves to limbo. That much is clear. She's got the right dynamic for the New Frontier"

  9. #9
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: Dave Cutter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Posts
    1,903
    Between medical studies funded by pharmaceutical company's, well meaning believers in certain diets and or exercise routines, and out right snake oil salespeople.... even medical professional have a hard time sorting the science from... the rest.

    I love cycling! Cycling gives me joy. And between quitting cigarettes, eating less fat and more fresh foods, of course... cycling near daily and just a tiny bit of jogging... I think I am healthier. I am NOT immune from heart disease.

    If you think you might be pushing too hard... you probability are. If you think your routine is OK... but your doctor thinks it's too much... your doctor is probability right.

    If you (or I) do everything by the book and tests show the heart of a youngster athlete. Yet the heart fails while asleep... who would really be surprised.
    If I didn't bicycle when the weather is bad... I wouldn't be a cyclist. I'd just be another old fat man... with a bicycle hanging in his garage.

    Urban Cycling.... Overcome your fears (a YouTube Link).
    Learn to cycle in traffic
    Or... just HTFU

  10. #10
    plx
    plx is offline
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    94
    Cyclist have the biggest hearts of all endurance sports
    As long as you keep exercizing is no problem but if you stop all of a sudden i think it can be a problem. Try do reduce the load gradually

  11. #11
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: love4himies's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    1,596
    This is very interesting. Not everybody is cut out to do endurance sports. I've always wondered if those who just can't seem to do them have something different than those who find it easier???

    Does anybody know if larger than normal lung capacity goes hand in hand with a healthy, enlarged heart?
    While we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions. - Stephen R. Covey.

  12. #12
    plx
    plx is offline
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    94
    It's proven that the exercise does get bigger with endurance exercise
    People area always blaming poor genetics bla bla, everyone can get to the top if they have passion for it

  13. #13
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    2,529
    Quote Originally Posted by plx View Post
    It's proven that the exercise does get bigger with endurance exercise
    People area always blaming poor genetics bla bla, everyone can get to the top if they have passion for it
    you are correct to a great extent. Everyone can get to the top if they work hard.

    However, to win at the top will require some genetics though. Like they say in basketball, you can't teach a guy how to be 7'0". Lung capacity is also largely genetic.

  14. #14
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    2,529
    Quote Originally Posted by love4himies View Post
    This is very interesting. Not everybody is cut out to do endurance sports. I've always wondered if those who just can't seem to do them have something different than those who find it easier???

    Does anybody know if larger than normal lung capacity goes hand in hand with a healthy, enlarged heart?
    I think everyone can do endurance sport. It's the "winning" that that everyone can't do.

  15. #15
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Posts
    18,978
    Quote Originally Posted by plx View Post
    People area always blaming poor genetics bla bla, everyone can get to the top if they have passion for it
    Sorry but this is pure nonsense. I certainly don't possess any hard data but I would be surprised if 1% of the population had the genetic potential to reach the top levels of any endurance sport (cycling, running, XC skiing).

  16. #16
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    484
    A large heart in non-athletes is generally a symptom for another disease like COPD. If you see someone who is 400lbs and they really have n reason to have an enlarged heart.

    A large heart in an athlete is just a sign that the heart has grown due to use. Your heart is a muscle and has the ability to build new muscle although at a much slower rate than skeletal muscle. It can be cause for worry if its abnormally large (4-6 cm larger) but generally its not excessive enough to notice. Im talking maybe 1-2cm larger than normal.


    I say this as a radiologic technologist. We do 90% chest xrays so we are trained to know what to look for but cant diagnose anything.

  17. #17
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: OldZaskar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    1,279
    I read some of those studies a few months ago. Not happy. Ended up "ignoring" them, e.g. not going let it impact my activities, etc. It came down to a simple idea...

    "I do not seek to maximize the duration of my life...
    ... I seek to get the maximum from the duration of my life"

  18. #18
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: arai_speed's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Posts
    575
    Quote Originally Posted by OldZaskar View Post
    It came down to a simple idea...

    "I do not seek to maximize the duration of my life...
    ... I seek to get the maximum from the duration of my life"
    Luv it!

  19. #19
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: sdeeer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    994
    Quote Originally Posted by OldZaskar View Post
    "I do not seek to maximize the duration of my life...
    ... I seek to get the maximum from the duration of my life"
    By and large....your quote seems to be mostly true. While the amount of endurance exercise and dietary means we employ are not optimal for health (absolute longevity), they allow most of us to live longer and with better quality of life than our sedentary counterparts.

    I think most draw the line at factors that are known to reduce longevity substantially.

    But many, as your statement illustrates, are willing to sacrifice some longevity for enjoyment of a particular activity.

    The conflict in the policy making is prescribing the appropriate dose (of exercise or nutritional recommendations) that will increase the longevity and quality for the most individuals.

    Unfortunately, the data is a bit conflicting and is lost on the lay population. A part of me wishes that they were kept more in the dark or educated in the process of science and data to a greater extent.
    "The lower limit of dietary carbohydrate compatible with life apparently is zero, provided that adequate amounts of protein and fat are consumed."......http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?reco...10490&page=275

    Feel free to PM me nutrition questions. I will answer them if I have time.....

  20. #20
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    2,529
    Quote Originally Posted by bballr4567 View Post
    A large heart in non-athletes is generally a symptom for another disease like COPD. If you see someone who is 400lbs and they really have n reason to have an enlarged heart.

    A large heart in an athlete is just a sign that the heart has grown due to use. Your heart is a muscle and has the ability to build new muscle although at a much slower rate than skeletal muscle. It can be cause for worry if its abnormally large (4-6 cm larger) but generally its not excessive enough to notice. Im talking maybe 1-2cm larger than normal.


    I say this as a radiologic technologist. We do 90% chest xrays so we are trained to know what to look for but cant diagnose anything.

    The real question is, once we stop or scale down our endurance activity, does our heart also now reduce in size? Preliminary data appears to say no, i.e., the heart stay enlarged (this is unlike skeletal muscle that under atrophy once we stop/reduce the exercise).

    Another issue that interests me is the calcification of the aorta. Seems to me that this process is also irreversible.

    What I do know is that when you do endurance sport, your heart does undergo some damage (like your skeletal muscle) and it also undergo fibrosis over time. The question is how much of this should we care to know about. Seems to me that the "athletic world" (especially the endurance folks) are not wanting to even know about what science has to say about it. For many endurance athlete, they just want to hear "more is better" (as in the more I exercise, the better it is for my heart).

  21. #21
    So. Calif.
    Reputation: tom_h's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    2,643
    Quote Originally Posted by Kerry Irons View Post
    Sorry but this is pure nonsense. I certainly don't possess any hard data but I would be surprised if 1% of the population had the genetic potential to reach the top levels of any endurance sport (cycling, running, XC skiing).
    I think you're being too generous , 0.1 - 0.01% might be more like it ;-)

  22. #22
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: JasonB176's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Posts
    669
    Quote Originally Posted by sdeeer View Post
    By and large....your quote seems to be mostly true. While the amount of endurance exercise and dietary means we employ are not optimal for health (absolute longevity), they allow most of us to live longer and with better quality of life than our sedentary counterparts.

    I think most draw the line at factors that are known to reduce longevity substantially.

    But many, as your statement illustrates, are willing to sacrifice some longevity for enjoyment of a particular activity.

    The conflict in the policy making is prescribing the appropriate dose (of exercise or nutritional recommendations) that will increase the longevity and quality for the most individuals.

    Unfortunately, the data is a bit conflicting and is lost on the lay population. A part of me wishes that they were kept more in the dark or educated in the process of science and data to a greater extent.
    Surely the obese/very fat among the sedentary population are at greater health risk than cyclists who are at their optimum weights. The percentage of obese at least in America is continually going up and the accompanying health risks and premature death.

    I think all this about exercise supposedly being bad for you is very dangerous information for the vast majority. I'm sure some sedentary people seize upon it to justify their laziness. Even *if* there is some truth to the idea that there is a possibility of negative health consequences for extreme athletes, leading an active cyclist's lifestyle must be far preferable to the average American's non-active one.
    2012 Motobecane Le Champion Team Titanium
    2002 Jamis Eclipse
    2000 Specialized Allez Elite

  23. #23
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: OldZaskar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    1,279
    Quote Originally Posted by JasonB176 View Post
    Surely the obese/very fat among the sedentary population are at greater health risk than cyclists who are at their optimum weights. The percentage of obese at least in America is continually going up and the accompanying health risks and premature death.

    I think all this about exercise supposedly being bad for you is very dangerous information for the vast majority. I'm sure some sedentary people seize upon it to justify their laziness. Even *if* there is some truth to the idea that there is a possibility of negative health consequences for extreme athletes, leading an active cyclist's lifestyle must be far preferable to the average American's non-active one.
    I think that's one of the points that Jason was making: Even if what we're doing - very intense endurance training - isn't the absolute optimal means toward optimal health/longevity, it's still much (!) better than what the vast number of Americans are doing... which is very little.

  24. #24
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    752
    This thread is mixing all sorts of medical conditions. The article cited by sdeeer suggests that cardiac remodeling secondary to repeated endurance events could increase the risk of arrhythmia development. This is completely different from dilated cardiomyopathy (heart failure with the observation of an enlarged heart).

    I also think that saying you ride a bike, so you should be healthier is oversimplifying the issues at hand. Intense and/or excessive exercise causes muscle damage. The idea that your skeletal muscle gets stronger after exercise is related to the body's adaptation to that previous damage. So, it makes sense that the myocardium (heart muscle) will be stressed (and damaged) with significant exercise. However, it doesn't seem that we have come anywhere close to understanding the consequences of long-term strenuous exercise. Most of the large epidemiological studies only provide correlations, they don't provide cause/effect data.

    So, read the studies with interest, take them with a grain of salt, and enjoy your cycling. I'm sure we will all be told when there is conclusive evidence that cycling is bad for your health. However, it will likely be too late for most of us, and we won't stop anyway because we love the sport.
    Quote Originally Posted by uzziefly
    One word : wtf??
    Quote Originally Posted by Mel Erickson
    That's three.

  25. #25
    So. Calif.
    Reputation: tom_h's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    2,643
    Article appeared in NY Times's health section today,
    Can You Get Too Much Exercise?
    http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/0...-much-exercise ,
    and it summarized a long-term study of 53,000 race participants in a 56-mile, cross-country ski marathon in Sweden.

    Also compared & contrasted to some other human & rat research. Rodent research often won't directly predict human results, but enables invasive experimentation which for obvious reasons cannot be done on humans.

    The full journal article on the x-country skiers is not behind a paywall,
    Risk of arrhythmias in 52 755 long-distance cross-country skiers: a cohort study
    Risk of arrhythmias in 52 755 long-distance cross-country skiers: a cohort study

    Unsurprisingly, it's complicated:

    " ... Kasper Andersen, a professor at Uppsala University and co-author of the Vasaloppet study points out, 'although we observed an increased risk of arrhythmias in the more trained athletes, physical activity and exercise have positive effects on the risk of other diseases' ... "

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 29
    Last Post: 03-01-2013, 07:19 PM
  2. Diesel fumes increase risk of heart failure
    By muskat in forum Politics Only
    Replies: 12
    Last Post: 07-22-2011, 03:26 PM
  3. Increase the size of Congress?
    By Cyclo-phile in forum Politics Only
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 03-10-2010, 09:13 AM
  4. Should I increase size of chainrings?
    By davidgator in forum Components, Wrenching
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: 05-19-2008, 07:50 PM
  5. Any other Hotmail users get a size increase?
    By GirchyGirchy in forum The Lounge
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 11-15-2004, 02:42 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

Sea Otter Classic

Hot Deals

Contest


Latest RoadBike Articles


Latest Videos

RoadbikeReview on Facebook