Here’s a short study I did on the Athlete’s Heart a while back. I find it amazing how regular physical activities can not only shape our bodies into positive forms of expressions, but can also physically transform our internal systems in order to function at a much higher level.
The Athlete’s Heart is defined as hypertrophy, or increased size, of the heart, as a result of regular, intense, physical activities.
Cardiac hypertrophy in endurance athletes, such as runners and swimmers, is seen in their large ventricular cavities, but with an average thickness of their ventricular walls. This enables more blood to enter the ventricle during diastole, or the resting phase of the cardiac cycle.
In a study on male athletes by Morganroth et al, endurance athletes were measured to have 55 mm wide ventricular cavities, but only 10.5 mm thick ventricular walls. Their left ventricles weighed in at an average of 300 grams.
In a study on female athletes, by Zeldis et al, endurance athletes were measured to have 47.5 mm wide ventricular cavities, 10.5 mm thick ventricular walls. Their left ventricles weighed in at an average of 200 grams.
In nonendurance athletes, such as those engaged in highly anaerobic activities like wrestling and putting the shot, cardiac hypertrophy is characterized by a normal sized ventricular cavity and a thicker ventricular wall.
In a study on male athletes by Morganroth et al, nonendurance athletes had 14 mm thick ventricular walls, and 47.5 mm thick ventricular cavities. The weight of their left ventricles averaged at 330 grams.
Individuals with sedentary lifestyles have hearts with smaller sizes, weight, and dimensions as compared to athletes. In a study on males by Morganroth et al, sedentary individuals had 10.2 mm thick ventricular walls. Endurance athletes had 10.5 mm thick walls, and nonendurance athletes had 14 mm thick walls. Sedentary individuals had 43 mm wide ventricular cavities, while the endurance athletes had 55 mm wide cavities, and the nonendurance athletes had theirs at 47 mm thick. The sedentary individuals left ventricles weighted in on average at 210 grams, while the endurance athletes’ were at 300 grams and the nonendurance athletes at 330 grams.
In a study on females from Zeldis et al, sedentary individuals 10.2 mm thick ventricular walls, while endurance athletes had 10.5 mm thick walls. The sedentary individuals’ ventricular cavities were 44 mm wide, while the endurance athletes’ 48 mm wide. The sedentary individuals’ left ventricles weighed in on average at 125 grams, while the endurance athletes were at 200 grams.
Fox, Edward, Bowers, Richard, and Foss, Merle. The Physiological Basis for Exercise and Sport, 5th ed. Iowa: Brown & Benchmark Publishers, 1993.
Wilmore, Jack, and Costill, David. Physiology of Sport and Exercise. Illinois: Human Kinetics, 1994.