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
from September 2014
©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.
Publish Date
Received: 26-05-2009
Accepted: 26-08-2009
Published (online): 01-12-2009
Share this article

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.
Home Issues About Authors
Contact Current Editorial board Authors instructions
Email alerts In Press Mission For Reviewers
Archive Scope
Supplements Statistics
Most Read Articles
  Most Cited Articles
JSSM | Copyright 2001-2020 | All rights reserved. | LEGAL NOTICES | Publisher

It is forbidden the total or partial reproduction of this web site and the published materials, the treatment of its database, any kind of transition and for any means, either electronic, mechanic or other methods, without the previous written permission of the JSSM.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.