Faculty of Science

Interesting facts in sport and exercise

Is there really a science behind exercising?

To be able to exercise we must co-ordinate many different processes within the body.

These include setting the mind to do it, telling the muscles what to move, when to move, how fast to move and when to stop moving, while at the same time making sure there is enough blood going to the muscles to supply the oxygen to convert the stored energy into action, shutting down systems that the body does not need during exercise, and then opening up systems that get rid of the heat generated from the exercising muscles.

Meanwhile, the bones respond to the impact of the exercise and get stronger, the heart gets stronger to pump more blood, and the muscles become more efficient (after all, who wants to work hard when you can adapt to do the same for less cost?).

Special hormones called endorphins are also released to make you feel that the exercise is good – both now and when you finish. So yes, you sweat and grunt, but you sure turn on a lot of integrated circuits to make it all happen.

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How much exercise is good for my health?

Thirty minutes of moderate-intensity activity on most days a week, or three 20-minute sessions of vigorous intensity activity.

Science studies show that individuals doing this amount of activity have a reduced risk of early mortality. The studies are longitudinal, following up large groups of adults over many years, and look at records of cause of death and frequency of disease. Specific studies have shown that active lifestyles (to a level equal to, or more than the current recommendation) will reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes, cancer and stroke.

In addition, exercise helps reduce excess weight and obesity, reduces high blood pressure and your risk of a heart attack, while at the same time making you look good, feel great, and is lots of fun and is something you can do with friends. The benefits of being physically active are so wide and numerous it would be a miracle pill if it were available.

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Do you have to be 'sporty' to be fit?

No – many physical activities undertaken regularly will provide health benefits, and make you look and feel good.

The need to feel sporty is one of the frequent barriers to girls, adolescents and adults performing regular exercise. You do not need to be good at sports but you need to find things you enjoy.

These are usually things you can do with friends and are fun. Different activities – aerobics, tennis, badminton, swimming, walking, skateboarding, surfing – appeal to different people

Other barriers to regular exercise are feeling lazy and being overweight. Physical activities will help you maintain a healthy body weight.

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Can I increase the rate of fat loss by exercising in heavy clothing?

Definitely not!

Wearing heavy clothing like a wet weather jacket will certainly make you heat up and sweat much more than if you did the same exercise without the clothing, but it will only cause an excessive loss of body fluid (from the sweating), and possibly lead to dehydration.

It will do nothing to help you lose fat at a greater rate.

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Why do I have high blood cholesterol?

Blood cholesterol levels are primarily determined by two factors, and food cholesterol content isn't one of them! Genetics and the level of saturated fat in the diet are the most important factors.

It is tough to change your genes, but you can reduce the level of saturated fat (meat and dairy products – trim visible fat and use low-fat products) in the diet. Regular exercise will also help lower cholesterol levels.

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What is the key factor of power in tennis?

While body size and strength play a role, the key factor in the development of power is technique.

Sport scientists use high-speed video systems to analyse body movements, and advise players how to improve their performance and reduce the risk of injury.

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What role does sport science play in reducing knee injuries?

While softer surfaces have been shown to reduce the incidence of injuries generally, programs that include a proprioceptive (balance) component (wobble boards, Swiss balls) in training have shown to be the most effective intervention in reducing the incidence of knee injuries.

This type of training teaches the muscles around the knee to co-contract, making the joint more stable.

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What advantage do swimmers gain from bodysuits?

In swimming, a major factor that reduces speed is frictional drag of the body.

Research conducted by scientists at The University of Western Australia, which involved towing swimmers through the water with and without suits, has shown that drag is reduced by about 7.5 per cent when wearing a suit, at least over a short distance.

Over longer distances, maybe 200 metres and beyond, some swimmers feel this advantage is lost.

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Is that bowling action legal?

When spectators view a fast bowler in two-dimensions on a television screen, it often seems as if he is 'throwing' the ball. This is what is commonly called perspective error.

What is needed to measure the true angle at the elbow during delivery is three-dimensional analysis, which can only be achieved with the use of multiple cameras.

Three-dimensional analysis systems at the School of Human Movement and Exercise Science have been used to clarify 'throwing controversies' for the International Cricket Council.

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