Come along and be part of a scientific study!

Testing is open to adults and children of all abilities. We'll be testing between 10am and 4pm on the 4th floor of the City Arts Centre every day from Monday 11th April until Saturday 16th April, and also on Monday 18th and Tuesday 19th. See you there!

Friday, 22 April 2011

Testing: Complete

The testing at the science festival has now been completed, with over 200 Wingate cycling tests being done, by people aged between 7 years and 70 years old. 

This was a great result, in terms of getting a large subject group in such a small space of time, and I´m  very grateful to everybody who took time out of their day at the festival to be part of the research.

The next stage of the process will take much longer than the data collection, but is equally, if not more important.  This stage is the data analysis.  This is the stage in which the data pertaining to power variables during the test, and changes in local muscle oxygen saturation, will be collated for each person.  I will then make comparisons between group means for adults and children of different ages, and also males and females.  The next stage is to look for trends within this grouped data, and see if they match trends seen in similar data which has previously been collcted by other researchers.  With such a large subject group, I hope we will see some interesting trends emerging.  I am also very keen to see if there are distinct differences in the oxygen saturation profile in the muscle for people who exercise very reguarly, compared with those people who do not.  There are a variety of statistical tests which can be used to assess whether the trends which are seen are significant or not.

So there is much to do, and as soon as there are some interesting results to show, I will post them up here, so you can see how the data is taking shape.

For now, I wish everybody a happy easter, and hope you all enjoy the sunshine,


Monday, 18 April 2011

One day of testing to go... if you haven't already come to see us at the City Art Centre, tomorrow is your last chance!

For those people who have taken part so far, there are now some updated results available for you to see.  These results split both adults and children into age group categories, so you can compare your test performance with those people of a similar age to yourself.

One trend we're looking at is the change in peak power  at different ages in childhood; this graph shows some results which look at this question:

We can see from this graph that the general trend (represented by the straight line) is that peak power increases throughout the years of childhood.  These results are similar to many other studies which have looked at the changes in muscle strength during childhood, and are probably what everybody would have expected to see: as children grow older, their muscles begin to develop and they therefore are able to produce higher power.  This is a great start, but there are still many things to look at from the data we've collected: rates of fatigue; differences between males and females; comparing children's power to adult's power; and also investigating the local muscle changes in oxygen saturation, and how these parameters change according to age. 

With only one more day of testing, I'd just like to say a big thank you to everybody who has taken part so far; it was great to meet everybody, and see some fantastic efforts during the tests.  It's been great to see so many people who are so active: cycling to work/school; playing a wide range of sports; taking part in marathons and triathlons - keep up the good work everybody!


Friday, 15 April 2011

145 tests completed so far.... have a look at the results to see how you've done!

Here are the updated results lists for adults and children.  The lists show your Absolute Peak Power, Peak Power relative to body weight, and Average Power achieved throughout the test.

Don't forget that during the test we were also monitoring the changes in tissue oxygen saturation (TSI%) in your quadriceps muscle using Near Infrared Spectroscopy.  I will be posting more details about these results shortly.

I hope that everybody has enjoyed being part of the testing, we are very grateful to you for being part of the research study and putting in such a great effort on the bike.  Hopefully the results are interesting for you.  Testing will finish on Tuesday 19th April, and on Tuesday evening I'll post up the final results tables so you can see your final rankings!

If you haven't been to the festival yet but are visiting the City Art Centre in the next few days, please come up and see us on the 4th floor and be involved with the project!


Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Results Update

Hi All,

The results for everybody who has taken part in testing so far are now available.  So far we've tested 58 children and 44 adults, so we are on target to collect over 200 test results in total!  This is great news.  Large data sets can produce more reliable results, because there is a smaller chance that a few odd or anomalous results will cause inaccurate conclusions to be drawn. 

So, for the 58 children, the average results so far are: Peak Power = 233W; Average Power = 200W; Peak Power relative to body weight = 5.86 W/kg.

For the 44 adults, average results are: Peak Power =  515W; Average Power = 421W; Peak Power relative to body weight = 6.9 W/kg.

To see how your scores compare to these group average values, have a look at the full updated results for adults and children.

Let's have a look at some of you in action:

Keep going!

This young man managed to keep smiling throughout the whole test!

That's all for now.  Remember to keep checking back for further info and analysis,


Tuesday, 12 April 2011

The first results are in...

Hello everybody,

I'm pleased to say that the results for everybody who completed the Wingate cycling test on Saturday 9th, Sunday 10th and Monday 11th April are now available. 

For the adults, we have had 38 people completing the test so far.  The average results of that group are as follows: Peak Power (PP) = 528W; Average Power (MP) = 429W, and Peak Power relative to body weight (this is the important one if you want to compare your results with those of your children) = 6.9 W/kg.  For the 36 children we've tested so far, average results are: Peak Power (PP) = 230W; Average Power (MP) = 201W; and Peak Power relative to body weight = 5.85W/kg. 

Have a look at the full results for adults and children to see how your performance compared to everybody elses!  If you've lost your subject number, get in contact and I can tell you what it is. 

Remember to keep checking back during the rest of the festival, to see how your relative ranking changes as we complete more tests and add more data to the lists.  At present, we only have two groups: adults and children.  When more date has been collected I will split people's results up into age categories.  I'll also be adding information about the near infrared measurements of muscle oxygenation (for those of you who had those taken as well), so please check back for that,
Thank you again for taking part, hopefully everybody is fully recovered from the exercise: who knew 20 seconds could seem so long!


P.S.  If you haven't already clicked on the quiz link at the top left of this page, have a go now: it's your chance to win iTunes vouchers worth £25! (And show off you scientific knowledge, of course)

Saturday, 9 April 2011

First Day of the Festival

It's been a hectic first day of the festival at the City Art Centre! 

Today we have completed over 25 fitness tests with people aged from 8 years to 50+ years, so it's been a very productive day! 

Thank you and well done to everybody who took part; there were some excellent efforts and very impressive peak power measurements.  If you are checking in to see your results, please come back either on Sunday or Monday and have a look: I will compile all the results from the first few days and post them up together.  Remember to keep hold of your subject number so you can identify yourself.

In the meantime, for the children who've completed the test, the quiz link on this page is a chance to show what you learned today, and win some iTunes vouchers!
Here's one of our youngest subjects putting in a great effort!

Looking forward to the rest of the festival,


Friday, 8 April 2011

NIRS: Shining Light on Exercise

The title of this blog post should probably be the title of my PhD thesis, as it sums up what I (and other people working in this specific field) have been trying to do over recent years.  Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) offers us an opportunity to gain real-time information about what’s going on inside our bodies whilst we exercise, and it doesn’t require any needles or anything nasty of that sort – so it’s pretty amazing really! 
But how does it work? 

Firstly, light of wavelengths in the ‘near-infrared’ range is special, because when you shine it into the body, it doesn’t get completely absorbed by haemoglobin molecules in the blood (as is the case at lower wavelengths), and it doesn’t get completely absorbed by water molecules (as is the case at higher wavelengths) – so in the near-infrared range we have an ‘optical window’, where some of the light we shine in will come back out and be detected.    

The electromagnetic spectrum, showing the position on near-infrared light, at wavelengths just higher than visible light

Secondly, within this near-infrared ‘optical window’, haemoglobin which is bound to oxygen acts differently to the light than haemoglobin that is not bound to oxygen.  So we can tell how much of the haemoglobin in the muscle is carrying oxygen.  It is very interesting to see how this figure changes when the muscle is working, when a greater amount of oxygen is required for the muscle to contract.

For some years now, NIRS has been a technique used in hospitals to monitor the oxygen levels in the muscles and brain of patients.  However, most of the NIRS devices available are quite bulky, and not really suitable for use in a sports setting.  The device I’ve been using during my studies is called the Portamon, and it is completely wireless and very small – see for yourself in this photo!  

Since this device is smaller than my phone, it's very easy to transport around, and very easy to attach to the body of an athlete. 
The production of small devices such as this has meant that this very exciting technique can be expanded to use in a wide-range of exercise settings to investigate a variety of questions: evaluation of physical fitness; the effect of warm-up and cool-down on performance; and the metabolic effects of exercise training.  The pool of research in exercise science using portable NIRS is growing, which is great news. 

Hopefully those of you who have been to see us at the Science Festival will agree that this is a very interesting technique, and will be able to support my claim that we are able to get information about what’s happening in your muscle when you exercise without causing any pain or discomfort at all!  If you don’t believe me, come down and have a go!

That’s all for now, I’ll be back soon with the first set of results from the festival,