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Scientists have long known that humans are built for endurance, with our shock-absorbing joints and springy tendons. Now, a new study shows people’s hearts are also optimized for endurance—though how much depends on whether we run, farm, or stay put on the couch.
To get to the heart of the matter, researchers used ultrasound imaging to examine the hearts of more than 160 adult men from four groups: long-distance runners, sedentary adults, highly trained football linemen, and the Tarahumara, Native American farmers renowned for their running ability. For comparison, they also looked at the hearts of 43 adult male chimpanzees—one of our closest evolutionary cousins.
Researchers - Thickest - Heart - Chambers—the - Blood-pumping
When researchers compared the thickest of the heart’s four chambers—the blood-pumping, strawberry-shaped left ventricle—there were clear differences. Endurance runners and farmers had larger, elongated ventricles with thin walls—traits that help pump large volumes of blood for a long time, the researchers report today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The linemen, whose training emphasized short, high-intensity exercise, had shorter, wider ventricles with thicker walls. So did the sedentary humans. The chimps, whose main...
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