Last month I represented King's College London at the BASES (British Association of Sports and Exercise Science) student conference in Portsmouth, England... home to the navy! It was lovely to see the south coast of this wonderful country, the Spinnaker tower (which we didn't go up), and the Isle of White in the distance. It was nice to be by the sea and see all the boats coming and going. I was very tempted to hop on a ferry to France!
The BASES conference itself was an interesting experience. For so long I have been immersed in the dance community but it was nice to step out of my comfort zone and experience a sports science event and some of the current research that students are participating in within this field. Some of the student presentations were very impressive!
Highlights of the conference included...
Talk from Katherine Grainger, British rower, 6 time world champion and 4 time Olympic Medalist!
Wow! What an amazing speaker! She was absolutely hilarious and engaging, while so down to earth. She spoke from her heart about her experiences as an Olympic athlete; from the thrill of winning her first Olympic medal in Sydney to the crushing disappointment losing to China in 2008, and then to her ultimate victory and gold medal at London 2012. Even though we all knew the end of the story, (she won!) I swear everyone was on the tip of their seats as she dramatically recapped the final minutes before the race.
As someone who is involved in the training of athletes, it was interesting to hear her speak of her team extending far beyond the members that sat in the boat on race day. From her coach to her physiologist, nutritionist, and her strength and conditioning coach, they were all with her on race day, and all played a roll in her finally winning that gold medal (which she whipped out of her back pocket at the end!!).
A tour and demonstration of Portsmouth University's environmental lab.
The facilities at Portsmouth University in their Sports Science department are AMAZING! Including, 3 climatic chambers that can range from -40 to + 40 degrees Celsius, change humidity, wind chill, and mimic environments of high altitude.
They also have a full submersion pool and we watched a demonstration of a student volunteer submersed into freezing cold water. We witnessed how her core temperature, heart rate, strength, coordination and energy expenditure changed as her body adapted over the 25 minutes they kept her in there for. The things people do for science!
They also have a swimming flume to train athletes swimming against resistance and loads of visual 3D software. It was so cool to see the space, and all the cool research that can be done using these facilities.
Some innovative presentations of current research from students in the exercise and health session. Some of these included:
I specifically found interesting a study that investigated into a new term that is on the rise called 'metabolically healthy obesity'. BMI (body mass index) is a common measurement used by health professionals to measure obesity.
BMI = weight (kg)/ Height (m)2.
Generally the following classifications are used to determine a healthy BMI:
As a measurement of weight in relation to height, BMI does not take into account other factors that can determine health other than weight. As muscle and fat have different densities, someone with lots of muscle mass will have a high BMI and thus athletes often fall prey to having very high BMIs. A small subset of 'obese' people are now being classified as metabolically healthy. This research study looked at the prevalence of metabolically healthy obesity in male rugby players - meaning by BMI terms these people are obese, however in terms of other health factors including body fat percentage, physical fitness and insulin resistance they are considered healthy. This study, along with some other emerging studies on the topic reaffirmed the idea that there may be better ways to measure health in athletes (and other populations) than BMI.
Attending the BASES conference reminded how it is so SO great to get out there and see what other professionals are doing in the same field. For me, staying up to date with current research is so important in staying active in this field and being able to apply best practice to the people I work with. This conference reinstated my motivation to continue with more research in the coming years! Stay tuned for some future research projects I've got up my sleeve.
Hi! I'm a dance science educator, Pilates instructor and Personal Trainer residing in Toronto. Here is what I have to say about all things health and movement related.