BENDIGO'S casual cyclists have been called on to help scientists better understand the sport's effect on the heart.
It's part of an effort to improve knowledge about the health effects of endurance cycling in a recreational context, rather than among elite athletes.
It came about after a Bendigo doctor noticed many recreational cyclists presenting with heart issues.
LaTrobe University Holsworth post doctoral research fellow Daniel Wundersitz said the cardiologist contacted LaTrobe after noticing a lots of otherwise healthy recreational cyclists coming into his clinic with heart problems.
A study of a fundraising church group found a tenfold increase in the rate of cardiac arrhythmia - irregular heartbeat - after members spent 21 days riding, Dr Wundersitz said. It's a common occurrence among elite cyclists.
But the size of the group's hearts remained the same, where elite cyclists tended to be larger than average.
Dr Wundersitz said many arrhythmias were without bad effects, but some could have serious consequences.
His aim is to discover the point at which exercise stops being safe, and starts putting people at risk.
The next study - for which he is calling for volunteers - will take a scattergun approach.
Read more: Take care of yourself, women urged
Dr Wundersitz will monitor individuals considering certain factors, such as iron levels or sleep, before and after a single day of endurance.
He said while elite cyclists's health had been well studied, little research had been done into recreational cycling.
Cycling was a unique form of exercise because of its way of stretching the body, he said.
Bendigo was a suitable place to conduct the study because its large cycling population.
"When this project came up it really excited me, because if I can actually identify something, the implications for the wider population are huge," he said.
"If we think of how demographics around population is happening, we're less active, more unfit. If I can identify a safer way to do more exercise, it can make a real difference."
And while his research wasn't finished, Dr Wundersitz encouraged people to keep cycling.
Find out more online at: bit.ly/2CnLOhC
To volunteer contact Dr Wundersitz at: D.Wundersitz@latrobe.edu.au
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