From working with footballers and elite athletes, to helping those in extreme environments and the emergency services, and even improving public awareness around physical activity – sport and exercise science is an exciting field to be in! Learn more about what sport and exercise scientists do in this short animation!
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Produced by Orinoco Communications
Animation: Hayley Evenett
Illustration: Alex Scarfe
Sound Design/Music: Alexander Bradley
Narration: Adam Hawkey
Director: Peter Barker
Scientific advisors: Adam Hawkey, Gladys Onambele-Pearson, Mike Tipton, Steve Harridge.
Producer at The Physiological Society: Emily Wylde
Athletes today can run faster, jump higher and hit harder than ever before. Thanks, in part, to sport and exercise scientists, who are using their understanding of physiology to optimise athletes training, performance, and recovery. And helping us live healthier lives through physical activity.
Take Jamie, he works as the sports scientist for a professional football team. Jamie is helping the players stay injury free by using sensors on the skin to gather data on muscle contractions and fatigue, and using these data to tailor players’ training to maximise performance and minimise injuries. Then there’s Victoria. She’s investigating why athletes with spinal cord injuries seem prone to overheating. This is when our deep body temperature goes too high, increasing blood flow to the skin and putting greater strain on the heart. Below their injury, these athletes’ bodies can’t regulate temperature through usual methods like sweating. And the higher up the injury the worse the problem is. With competitions like the Paralympic Games increasingly held in hot climates, this research could play a vital role in helping to prepare athletes and keep them safe.
And it’s not just athletes who benefit from sport and exercise science. It’s also helping people with physiologically challenging jobs, like those working in extreme environments and the emergency services…
Radika works with the fire service to measure the physiological impact of wearing protective equipment like protective respiratory devices. These units allow firefighters to work in hot, smoky conditions BUT the extra load can place increased strain on the heart and decrease firefighters’ capabilities. So Radika’s research is being used to devise recommendations about how long firefighters should use such protective equipment.
And what does sport and exercise science mean for the rest of us?
Well, it’s been said that ‘if exercise were a pill, it would be one of the most impactful drugs ever invented”! From improving patients’ fitness prior to surgery, to combating epidemics such as obesity and diabetes. Sport and exercise scientists are showing us how physical activity can help us to live healthier lives for longer.
But is occasional exercise enough? Recent research has uncovered something known as the ‘Active Couch Potato Phenomenon’. This describes people are physically active but who still spend many uninterrupted hours sitting down. It turns out prolonged inactivity like this can cause real problems for our bodily systems, with increased blood pressure, cholesterol and risk of cardiovascular disease. So sport and exercise scientists have a big challenge to make sure we’re moving more and staying healthy.
By helping athletes, protecting workers and pushing for greater public health, physiologists working in sport and exercise science are using their knowledge for good everywhere. Now is a great time to get involved!