Exercise physiology Effects of exercise on healthThijs Eijsvogels’ research group studies the acute and long-term effects of exercise on health. Current projects involve cardiac imaging following lifelong exercise training, optimizing cardiac rehab, assessing thermoregulatory responses in elite athletes and development of cooling strategies.
Our group has several aims.
We aim to understand the effects of high volume high intensity exercise training on cardiac biomarker release and (deleterious) cardiac remodeling.
Understanding cardiac stress and remodelingEmerging evidence suggests that high volumes of lifelong high-intensity exercise training may not be as good for cardiovascular health as previously thought. We aim to unravel:
- The prevalence, predictors and clinical meaning of exercise-induced cardiac biomarker release.
- The underlying mechanisms and clinical relevance of accelerated coronary artery calcification among highly active amateur athletes.
- The impact of myocardial fibrosis on cardiac function and associated clinical outcomes.
- The prevalence of sudden death among athletes.
- The effects of an active lifestyle on longevity.
We aim to elucidate the dose-response relationship between exercise volumes and health benefits.
Exercise is medicineExercise is a powerful strategy to reduce the risk for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, and current guidelines recommend adults to perform at least 150 min/week of physical activity. We aim to identify:
- The minimal exercise dose which needed to induce any health benefits.
- The optimal exercise dose providing maximal health benefits.
- A potential upper threshold beyond which health benefits attenuate with increasing exercise volumes.
We aim to develop and evaluate interventions that stimulate to sit less and move more in daily life.
Changing a sedentary lifestyleA sedentary lifestyle is characterized by prolonged periods of uninterrupted sitting. There is increasing evidence that sitting time is strongly associated with an increased risk for cardio-metabolic diseases and mortality, independent from the volume of physical activity that is being performed. Hence, we aim to:
- Develop an intervention to reduce sitting time in daily life.
- Adopt the intervention to the specific needs of the patient population.
- Integrate the intervention in standard clinical care.
- Evaluate the effect of the intervention on disease progression and clinical outcomes.
We aim to personalize cooling strategies and acclimation protocols to allow safe and optimal exercise performance in hot and humid conditions.
Exercise performance in the heatPerforming exercise in hot and humid ambient conditions is known to induce hyperthermia, potentially leading to performance loss and/or the development of heat related illnesses. For this purpose we aim to:
- Identify personal and exercise related factors contributing to the development of exertional hyperthermia.
- Develop and validate novel measurement techniques to measure core body temperature non-invasively.
- Establish an athlete’s temperature profile to allow personalized interventions for reducing heat stress.
- Optimize cooling strategies prior to (pre-cooling) and during (per-cooling) exercise.
- Optimize acclimation and re-acclimation strategies.
- Collect data in field based settings during extreme exercise events.
Some discoveries of our group.
We recently showed that high-volume high-intensity endurance exercise is related to several things.
Adverse cardiac remodelingWe recently showed that high-volume high-intensity endurance exercise is related to accelerated coronary artery calcifications, a higher prevalence of myocardial fibrosis, troponin elevations in every athlete, and higher concentrations of dicarbonyl stress markers.
An overview of the of the potential deleterious effects of acute and chronic endurance exercise can be read here.
We demonstrated that low volumes of exercise yield already large health benefits. Larger volumes induce greater risk reductions.
Exercise is medicineWe demonstrated that low volumes of exercise (i.e. 15 min/day) yield already large health benefits. Larger volumes induce greater risk reductions with maximal protection at an exercise volume equaling 3 to 4 times the recommended dose. Importantly, vigorous-intensity activities yields maximal risk reduction at a substantially lower dose compared to moderate-intensity activities.
An overview of the dose-response association between physical activity volumes and health outcomes can be read here.
We found that cooling before and during exercise can attenuate the increase in core body temperature, whereas pre- and per-cooling interventions can boost exercise performance in the heat.
Cooling strategies for athletesWe found that exercise-induced exertional hyperthermia is a common phenomenon among athletes with 15% of runners participating in a 15 km road race demonstrating a core body temperature ≥40°C. Cooling before (pre-cooling) and during (per-cooling) exercise can attenuate the increase in core body temperature, whereas we showed that pre- and per-cooling interventions can boost exercise performance in the heat with +5.7% and +9.9%, respectively.
An overview of the effectiveness, physiological mechanisms, and practical considerations of cooling interventions can be read here.
Related research groups
Research group Cardiovascular physiology and exercise
Dick Thijssen's research group focuses on the field of cardiovascular physiology and physical (in)activity. His work strongly focuses on understanding the impact of exercise training and physical activity on reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.read more