Human Endurance

The Research: Human Endurance and Exercise Physiology

Collecting data for Roehampton University: Dr Lewis Halsey (Comparative and Environmental Physiology), Dr Chris Tyler (Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Sciences), Dr Leigh Gibson (Psychologist and Physiologist), and Mark Hines (Ultra Endurance Athlete and Exercise Physiologist).

The 2014 Pacific Ocean row from the USA to Australia will be a huge test of the team's mental and physical tenacity as they row for two hours at a time, for around 15 hours per day.

The 2014 Pacific Ocean row from the USA to Australia will be a huge test of the team’s mental and physical tenacity as they row for two hours at a time, for around 15 hours per day.

1. The Fourbirdsaboating team will keep a food intake diary to record what and how much they eat each day.

2. The diary will include questions related to food perception to document how hungry they feel, whether eating makes them feel full, and how they feel once they have eaten.

3. The team will uses calipers to pinch as much fat as they can as a way of recording any changes in their body mass throughout the journey.

4. Before heading out to sea, the Fourbirdsaboating team will sit in a special piece of equipment called a ‘bodpod’. This will calculate the composition of their body and tell them how much of their body is water, how much is fat, etc. They will be measured by the Bodpod after their journey, and whilst at sea they will use a handheld device to record any changes in their body composition.

5. During the expedition the Fourbirdsaboating team will wear monitors which record their heart rate and movements.  The data collected through the monitors will help the scientists to understand how much the ladies are working out each day and how many kilojoules are being burnt up as they row for over 15 hours each day.

6. One of the least pleasant aspects of the research will be carried out on the team’s poo! Each time the girls pass a stool in the boat’s bucket, it must be put into a sample pot, and stored until the team reaches land. Once on dry land, the sample will be sent back to the lab, so that the scientists can analyse how much of everything the team consumed each day, ends up being excreted as waste. The scientists want to know whether the ladies bodies adapt to life at sea, and whether they compensate for higher energy use, by absorbing more fat from their food as they start to lose weight. What nutrients are being absorbed by the body over time, and what nutrients are being excreted?

7. None of the team have any problems with their backs and prior to the journey, have already been assessed by the Roehampton University researchers. On each of the ocean expeditions, the team will row for around 15 hours per day. The scientists want to find out more about the causes and factors that might lead to back pain and whether there are bio-mechanical risk factors which make some people more prone to back problems than others. Research on the rowers might one day help patients who suffer with back pain.

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