Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
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©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2009) 08, 533 - 542

Research article
Effects of Long-Term Physical Activity on Cardiac Structure and Function: A Twin Study
Sara Mutikainen1, , Merja Perhonen2, Markku Alén1,3,4, Tuija Leskinen1, Jouko Karjalainen5, Taina Rantanen1,6, Jaakko Kaprio7,8,9, Urho M. Kujala1
Author Information
1 University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland
2 CorusFit Oy, Jyväskylä, Finland
3 Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland
4 Institute of Health Sciences, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
5 University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
6 Finnish Centre for Interdisciplinary Gerontology, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland
7 University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
8 National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland
9 Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland FIMM, Helsinki, Finland

Sara Mutikainen
✉ Department of Health Sciences, PO Box 35 (Viveca), FIN-40014 University of Jyväskylä, Finland.
Email: sara.mutikainen@gmail.com
Publish Date
Received: 26-05-2009
Accepted: 26-08-2009
Published (online): 01-12-2009
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ABSTRACT

Previous studies have shown that athletic training or other physical activity causes structural and functional adaptations in the heart, but less is known how long-term physical activity affects heart when genetic liability and childhood environment are taken into account. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of long-term physical activity vs. inactivity on cardiac structure and function in twin pairs discordant for physical activity for 32 years. Twelve same-sex twin pairs (five monozygotic and seven dizygotic, 50-67 years) were studied as a part of the TWINACTIVE study. Discordance in physical activity was initially determined in 1975 and it remained significant throughout the follow-up. At the end of the follow-up in 2007, resting echocardiographic and electrocardiographic measurements were performed. During the follow-up period, the active co-twins were on average 8.2 (SD 4.0) MET hours/day more active than their inactive co-twins (p < 0.001). At the end of the follow-up, resting heart rate was lower in the active than inactive co-twins [59 (SD 5) vs. 68 (SD 10) bpm, p=0.03]. The heart rate-corrected QT interval was similar between the co-twins. Also, there was a tendency for left ventricular mass per body weight to be greater and T wave amplitude in lead II to be higher in the active co-twins (18% and 15%, respectively, p=0.08 for both). Similar trends were found for both monozygotic and dizygotic twin pairs. In conclusion, the main adaptation to long- term physical activity is lowered resting heart rate, even after partially or fully controlling for genetic liability and childhood environment.

Key words: Exercise, echocardiography, electrocardiography, heart rate, controlling for genetic liability, longitudinal study


           Key Points
  • The main adaptation to long-term physical activity is lowering of resting heart rate, even after controlling for genetic liability.
  • VO2peak is increased in the active co-twins compared with their inactive co-twins and accordingly, also submaximal heart rates during the clinical exercise test are lower in physically active co-twins.
  • There is a tendency for increased LVM per body weight and heightened T wave amplitude in the active co-twins.
 
 
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