Did you that the heart is a muscle? It is not the same type of muscle that makes your joints move (known as skeletal muscle), nor the type of muscle that is found in organs like your bladder or your stomach (known as smooth muscle). The heart is made up of three layers, the middle layer consisting of cardiac muscles or myocardium. This is responsible for the pump action of the heart that sends blood to the different parts of your body.
What's really cool about the heart is that similar to skeletal muscle, we can improve the efficiency of our heart's actions through exercise. Numerous studies have looked at high level athletes to see the extent to which we can make improvements to the hearts functional ability. The left ventricle (LV), that receives oxygenated blood from your lungs and pumps it out to rest of your body, is particularly affected by exercise.
One such study, published in 2015, showed that rowers had more LV heart muscle mass whereas runners had larger LV volume for oxygenated blood to fill (1). Another study at Guelph University (2) compared elite runners to swimmers in a quiet environment. Both groups had lower than normal resting heart rates (swimmers at 56 and runners at 49 beats per minute). While both groups had similar and impressive heart functions, the runners had earlier filling time of the LV and reached the untwisting peak faster. This untwisting peak is important as it allows for prolonged filling during the early diastolic filling phase of the heart's actions. The authors of this study question whether these differences are a result of differences in exercise stimulus or whether the horizontal nature of swimming, e.i. the heart's pump actions not having to fight gravity, help decrease the efficiency needed.
What we know for sure is that exercise helps to get your blood pumping and over time result in positive changes that lead to greater health and efficiencies for your body overall. Are you new to exercise and don't know where to start? Check out our previous blog on the health benefits of exercising and things to keep in mind when starting. Ask your family doctor, chiropractor, or physiotherapist for help on starting - while it is important to get moving, it is also important to do it safely.
Dr. Judith McCann is a chiropractor in Sharon, East Gwillimbury and provides chiropractic, acupuncture, and rehabilitation therapy to the surrounding communities of Sharon, Holland Landing, Mount Albert, Newmarket, and Keswick. Whether you have aches and pains. are looking to Get Moving, or simply want to improve health habits, Dr. McCann is a great resource. You can book online immediately or call us at 905-235-6777.
Dr. Judith McCann has been living in York Region for over 15 years. After going to Queen's University in Kingston for Kinesiology, and Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in Toronto to become a chiropractor, she decided to move back and open Haptic Health and Chiropractic in Newmarket. In February 2017, Haptic Health and Chiropractic moved 10 minutes up the road to Sharon in East Gwillimbury.