Exercise and Cardiac Health Lab Athlete's Heart Study

Our laboratory’s research examines how exercise affects heart function. This includes the heart’s adaptive responses to various types of exercise and how it’s affected after long-term training. We know that moderate exercise can improve heart function, reduce cardiovascular risk, and extend lifespan. Long-term intensive and prolonged exercise training leads to heart ‘remodeling’, called the Athletic Heart Syndrome. This generally produces a stronger, larger and efficient pump and is considered beneficial. However, a growing body of evidence suggests that some individuals who have been engaged in intensive endurance exercise for many years may be prone to heart rhythm problems, some of which may appear in young athletes, but more commonly arise in middle age. This particular study aims to find how high levels of exercise training over many years relate to changes in heart structure, function, and rhythm. It will also help us develop much more understanding about potential risk factors for the development of arrhythmias. Adults with a history of high-volume training (what some describe as ‘excessive’ exercise) over a long time period, will be compared to adults who have maintained light-to-moderate exercise history over a similar time-frame.

Study featured on CBC

Who Is Eligible? 
- 45-65 years old (males and females included)
- Physically active for at least the past 10-20 years, falling into one of the following groups :

  • Endurace-trained (distance cyclists, runners, triathletes) OR
  • Recreationally-active (not more than 2.5 hours of activity per week)
  • Either group, no history of cardiovascular disease
(those with a diagnosis of atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter should call us (416-978-0762) as you may qualify to enter a different, but similar study).

- University of Toronto and affiliated hospitals (St. Mikes and Mt. Sinai)

What's Involved?

  • Advanced resting and exercise heart rhythm assessments
  • Lifestyle and medical history questionnaires and standard blood draw
  • Heart imaging via Echocardiography and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (for some)
  • Able to attend up to 4 week-day visits (lasting up to 90 minutes each)
  • VO2max test

If you are interested, please review our study consent form.

If you think you may be eligible, please complete the Pre-Screening Form online. This will help our study team to determine if you are eligible to participate in our study.

Thank you for reviewing our consent form and completing the pre-screening form. Our study team will be in contact with you shortly to confirm your eligibility.


For Enrolled Participants ONLY:

Please complete the following questionnaires once your eligibility has been confirmed and you have completed Study Visit #1 at St. Michael’s Hospital:

STEP 1: Please complete the forms in the order as listed below.

Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR-Q)

STEP 2: Please complete the following questionnaire.

Lifetime Total Physical Activity Questionnaire (LTPAQ)