How the Hearts of Triathletes Adapt

NUREMBERG, Germany, Sept. 1 (UPI) — A doctor in Germany says the hearts of triathletes’ adapt well if resistance and endurance training are combined.

Triathletes compete in multisport events consisting of swimming, cycling and running.


Dr. Michael Lell at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany says endurance training includes running and swimming. Weightlifting, he says, is an example of resistance training while cycling is a combination of both.

He notes excessive training in either resistance or endurance leads to specific heart adaptations and extreme endurance training is thought to be associated with a predisposition to sudden cardiac events.

“Cardiac adaptations in elite triathletes in our study were not associated with sudden cardiac death,” Lell says in a statement.”The hearts of the triathletes in our study are stronger and able to manage the same workload with less effort.”

The study, published in Radiology, finds the triathletes’ resting heart rates were 17 percent lower than those of the control group.

Lell and colleagues conducted cardiac magnetic resonance imaging to compare the heart structures of 26 top national and international professional male triathletes — mean age 27.9 — to that of 27 male controls — mean age 27.3 — who were recreational athletes who exercised not more than 3 hours per week.

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