The Foothills Medical Stephenson Cardiac Imaging Centre will be performing a never before study on the effects of long term strenuous exercise on the heart and cardiovascular system, compliments of ultra marathon runner, Dave Proctor.

Dr. James White, Director of the Stephenson Cardiac Imaging Centre at the Foothills Medical Centre, says they are grateful for the opportunity to study Proctor's body as he makes the journey across Canada on foot.

"We've had some existing interest in studying exercise physiology and what the effects are on the human body, but never expected to have such a unique and extreme example of it, as Dave has presented to us," he said.

Dr. White and his colleagues will be conducting a series of tests and MRI's on Proctor throughout his run, targeting the effects of extreme and continuous exercise on the heart.

Dr. White says the study will focus on what repetitive, strenuous exertion does to the heart and cardiovascular systems.

"What we want to do is to see what repetitive physical exertion does to the heart," said Dr. White.

In addition to raising awareness and funding for rare disease research, Proctor has agreed to medical testing intervals during his journey to contribute to this research project.

"This provides a great opportunity to extrapolate that to diseases that put similar types of stress on the heart. We will be able to learn a tremendous amount from watching Dave, and understanding how the heart can adapt to that," Dr. White said.

The results of the study will be completed approximately two months after Proctor completes the ultra marathon, so the results can encompass the heart's behaviour while he is in recovery.

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