Ive Cycled Through There
The biggest concern about AF is that it increases stroke risk, as fibrillating atria do not contract or empty fully, which can allow blood clots to form. Of course, stroke risk is also influenced by a whole host of other factors high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. The question is, how best to balance the risks and benefits of exercise? In other words, developing arrhythmia is likely to force you to seriously cut back your training; far better to make smaller pre-emptive changes before harm is done.
There is not yet a definitive answer, but AF does not occur in normal hearts: it begins with a trigger, an out-of-sync beat, via an abnormality in the atrial muscle, and there are good grounds for suspecting such abnormalities commonly result from years of endurance exercise. Athletic hearts have to tolerate extremes.
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In training, heart rate is raised by adrenaline sympathetic nervous system , while low heart rates are dictated by the vagus nerve parasympathetic nervous system. It is known that scarring can disrupt the flow of electrical signals in the heart, creating another potential trigger point for arrhythmic beats. One particular condition is so strongly linked with endurance exercise that it has been named Phidippides cardiomyopathy — after the Greek messenger who, circa BC, died after having run the It is thought that this hazardous condition, characterised by patches of cardiac fibrosis scarring , is caused by prolonged, relatively intense exercise that keeps the heart in a state of volume overload for several hours at a time.
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Scarring is not the only risk; it is also understood that endurance exercise can cause the heart muscle to grow larger hypertrophy , or heart tissue to stretch dilation. The related structural changes may be implicated in arrhythmia, though this area is not yet fully investigated or understood. One of the biggest challenges for scientists is trying to separate out exercise-related risk factors from pre-existing conditions and factors unrelated to athletic adaptations. There are many different types of arrhythmia aside from AF, and the most serious types — thankfully rare — affect the larger lower chambers of the heart ventricles.
In cases of ventricular fibrillation VF , the heart cannot function, resulting in cardiac arrest and, in the worst case scenario, sudden cardiac death SCD.
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The most common cause of VF in those aged over 35 is the blockage of an artery caused by heart disease unrelated to exercise; somewhat reassuringly, there is scant evidence linking life-threatening ventricular arrhythmia and endurance exercise. Most cases of sudden death in sport result from an undetected pre-existing condition — exercise is the trigger rather than the underlying cause.
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There are many bikes available for people with disabilities. For most people, cycling is a safe and effective form of exercise.
If you have any health concerns or an existing medical problem, see your GP before you start. If you have not cycled much before or you're out of the habit of cycling, find yourself a traffic-free area to start off in, such as your local park. Practise riding single-handed so you can make hand signals, and get comfortable looking over both shoulders to improve your visual awareness.
Before you start cycling in traffic, check the Highway Code for up-to-date rules and regulations for cyclists. Regular cycling can reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke.
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Commuting by bike is cheap, green and one of the easiest ways to fit exercise into your routine. Work out your route to work using Sustrans or contact your local council for free cycling maps. Transport for London has an interactive cycle journey planner and free local cycling maps. Subscription renewal. We will send you an email reminder before your subscription expires. Can I use the bikes without a subscription? How will I pay for hires if I go over the free period?
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