After completion of the course, students are able to
- Explain the physiological concepts of exercise-induced cardiac remodelling and how these processes alter cardiac structure and function.
- Describe and explain the risks and/or benefits of cardiac malformations in athletes.
- Explain the principles of human thermoregulation at rest and during exercise and understand the impact of cooling interventions on thermoregulatory responses and exercise performance.
- Perform and interpret measurements of core body temperature and skin temperature in field and laboratory conditions
This course focuses on thermoregulatory responses and cardiac adaptations to short-term and long- term exercise training in amateur and elite athletes. During week 1 and 2 of the course, we will focus on thermophysiology, whereas the human heart is the central theme in week 3 and 4.
Our thermoregulatory system is a complex interaction between the central nervous system, the cardiovascular system and the skin. The preoptic area neurons in the anterior hypothalamus regulate the core body temperature in a narrow range around ~37°C. During exercise, 80% of the consumed energy is released as heat, resulting in an increase in core body temperature. If heat releasing mechanisms (i.e. sweating, skin perfusion) are not activated properly, the increase in core body temperature may lead to the development of heat illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The application of cooling techniques may limit the exercise-induced increase in core body temperature and preserves health and exercise performance. In this course the physiology and pathology of thermoregulation and heat illnesses at rest and during exercise are discussed. Also you will gain experience with several state-of-the-art techniques to measure core body temperature in laboratory and field conditions
Exercise training is a key aspect of primary and secondary prevention strategies as the performance of regular physical activity improves the cardiovascular risk profile. Current guidelines prescribe that every adult should exercise at least 150 minutes per week at a moderate intensity. Although only ~45 of the Dutch population meets these criteria, there is a steady increase in the number of amateur athletes that perform greater volumes of endurance exercise training such as runners, cyclists and triathletes. The acute and long-term effects of high-volume high-intensity training are currently under debate as emerging evidence suggests that this may harm the heart in some individuals. In this module you will explore the effects of extreme volumes of exercise on cardiac remodelling, and whether there is evidence that too much exercise may harm your heart.
Required prior knowledge
Knowledge about the principles of cardiovascular and exercise physiology are needed to follow this course.