When you exercise, your heart “remodels” to accommodate the body’s increased demand for more oxygen-rich blood to feed those muscles.
Does this remodeling affect Olympic athletes differently?
Not exactly, says Dr. Vincent Sorrell of the University of Kentucky Gill Heart & Vascular Institute.
“Anyone who exercises regularly will likely have some remodeling to their heart, which a layperson can see reflected in their resting heart rate,” Sorrell said. “But serious amateur and professional athletes – with Olympians being a prime example – have more extensive remodeling.”
Curiously, exercise-induced changes to the heart vary according to the type of exercise. In this video, Dr. Sorrell explains what happens to the hearts of specific Olympians as they practice their sport.
Also: We take you on the journey with UK athletes in the Olympics and those who support them at www.uky.edu/olympics. Follow along on all of our social media channels by looking for #olympiCats.
Dr. Mary Lloyd Ireland, now a sports medicine physician at UK Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine, was an Olympic team doctor in 1992 at the Summer Games in Barcelona.