Competitive or recreational Photo by Alexandre Chambon on Unsplash

Competitive or Recreational?

  • In a competitive situation people are likely to push themselves to a very high intensity.
  • There will be a higher demand on your heart than doing the same activity recreationally.
  • Competition can also be emotionally stressful. This will have an additional effect on our breathing and heart rate.
  • Often the desire to be successful in competitive sport can make competitors ignore physical discomfort. This is potentially hazardous for some people with a heart condition.
  • Training plays an important role in most competitive sports. Training often involves exercising at increasingly high intensities or for longer amounts of time. Care should be taken to avoid exceeding safe limits recommended by your cardiologist.

When deciding if an activity is suitable it is important to think about whether or not it will be competitive.

Most sporting activities can be enjoyed either at a recreational or a competitive level. Ideally, you should choose a sport which you may be able to continue to participate in as you get older. Some sports (for example, rugby) are fine when you are a young teenager but are likely to be potentially dangerous when you are competing at an adult level. If in doubt, discuss this with your cardiologist.

We asked some top professional athletes for their tips and advice about being active. Here's what they had to say!

"Try a few different sports out; the variety of training is what I love about doing triathlon"

Alistair Brownlee Triathlon World and Double Olympic Champion

"It's so important to find sports you enjoy doing, it makes it easy to find the time to do them" 

Jonathan Brownlee Triathlon World and Olympic Silver and Bronze medallist 

"A good warm up is essential for your best performance"

Mary King, British Olympic Equestrian silver medallist 

"Choosing an exercise you enjoy is fundamental to achieving your goals and is the best motivation to exercise at all!"

Katherine Grainger, British rower, five-time Olympic medallist and six-time World Champion

"Maintaining a healthy balanced diet is crucial to my results on the pitch"

Danny Care, England International Rugby Player

Last Updated: September 8, 2016