31 December 2011

more Singaporean exercising

More people exercising: SSC survey@straits times

MORE people in Singapore are now exercising and playing some form of sports regularly. More are also into jogging.

These are the findings which have emerged from an internal survey conducted by the Singapore Sports Council (SSC) on 4,000 households in September last year.

The SSC found that 57 per cent of those polled participate in sports and exercise at least once a week, an increase from 46 per cent in 2009. It is also higher than the 55 per cent recorded in 2006. The percentage of people who exercise at least three times a week has also gone up - from 22 per cent in 2009 to 26 per cent last year.

The survey also found that jogging is the most popular form of physical activity, followed by swimming and walking.

However, it seems that only certain groups of people, who have more time on their hands, tend to exercise more. For when the findings were broken down according to age-groups, teenagers aged 13-19 were found to be the most active (83 per cent). They were followed by senior citizens aged 60 and above (59 per cent).

In contrast, young adults aged 20-39 (51 per cent) and those aged between 40-59 (49 per cent) were found to be the least active.

On the whole, it looks like the SSC has achieved its aim of getting more people in Singapore to exercise.

Back in 2006, the SSC had vowed to target the specific needs of different age groups to get at least 50 per cent of Singaporeans active by this year. This was following the release of the results of the National Sports Participation Survey, which is conducted every five years. Back then, many people blamed work and family commitments for a lack of time for exercise.

SSC's Sports Pathways Development senior director Dr Bervyn Lee said: 'In the last five years, the SSC has launched various initiatives to encourage sports participation in Singapore at all levels and demographics.'

These initiatives include the Sports Education Programme introduced in 2007, the Let's Play movement in 2008, and the inaugural Singapore National Games next year, a community multi-sports competition.

20 December 2011

funding for High Performance athletes in NZ

High Performance investments focused on big year of 2012@SPARC

Kiwi athletes and teams who have performed well this year and those likely to do well in an Olympic year are the big winners in today’s 2012 investment announcement by High Performance Sport New Zealand.

High Performance Sport New Zealand (HPSNZ) Acting Chief Executive Martin Toomey says the focus of today’s announcement is on 2012, with new and continued investment support geared towards Kiwi athletes aiming for podium finishes or top 16 results next year.

``These investment decisions also recognise recent strong performances by Kiwi athletes. We’re really excited by how New Zealanders have been performing on the world stage and we know we’ve got a big year ahead of us with the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games,’’ he says.

``With our investment, we’re supporting sports with athletes who are capable of top 16 performances and podium finishes in 2012. Some new investment has been channeled into sports which have been producing great results on the world stage recently and are focused on doing even better next year.

``While these investment decisions are focused on 2012, we are also signaling support for sports which we expect to prove strong competition for our sporting rivals in 2016.’’

New Zealand’s equestrian eventing team, the men’s and women’s hockey teams, and the men’s and women’s basketball teams are among those to benefit from investment support in 2012.

Hockey is getting a top-up of $600,000 as a result of its performances at the 2011 Champions Trophy tournaments. The Black Sticks men, who finished fourth at the recent Champions Trophy tournament in Auckland, are getting $300,000 on top of the $800,000 they had already been allocated for 2012. This is in addition to the $100,000 HPSNZ provided towards hosting the Champions Trophy on home soil.

The Black Sticks women, who won a bronze medal at their Champions Trophy tournament, will get a top-up of $300,000 on their pre-existing 2012 allocation of $900,000.

New Zealand equestrian eventing is also among those to benefit from increased investment as they target the podium in London. The eventing team will get an extra $250,000 on top of the $1 million previously allocated for 2012.

Basketball benefits with the Tall Blacks and Tall Ferns both supported to qualify for the Olympic Games. Their allocation includes investment to help them to London if they succeed in qualifying.

Rowing is set to get an extra $500,000 on top of its previous allocation, bringing annual investment in its high performance programme to $4.82 million.

``Because Rowing NZ has already qualified 11 crews for the London Olympics and has more elite athletes in squads, it has higher overheads and some of the increased investment reflects that,’’ Toomey says.

BikeNZ will get an extra $200,000 to support its 2012 medal campaign. Part of its increased funding will support its fast-improving women’s track sprint programme.

Toomey says HPSNZ is also investing in Rugby Sevens and has signaled further investment in 2013, as the sport gears up towards entry to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. The investment in the New Zealand Rugby Union for its Sevens programme will support full-time Rugby Sevens coaching staff, Sevens-specific training camps, and international competition for the men and women.

Toomey says the applications for investment this year were for about twice the amount of money available.

09 December 2011

AIS Performance Recovery Symposium

Performance recovery at the Australian Institute of Sport@AIS

Performance recovery at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) is provided on a day-to-day basis for non-injured athletes to enhance their ability to train daily and give them strategies they can use in competition. Performance recovery is an emerging speciality of high-performance sport, which now represents a significant aspect of an elite athlete’s training plan.

In 2002, Recovery was a division of the AIS Physiology Department with a staff of one. Now Performance Recovery at the AIS has grown to become a discipline in its own right with six staff.

Each Recovery Physiologist is responsible for servicing athletes from five to eight sports and engaging in their research areas within the Recovery discipline. Evidence-based recovery programs are designed to assist athletes with treatment from physiological stressors associated with training and performance including inflammation, soreness, energy-substrate depletion, oxidative stress, nervous system fatigue, muscle damage and high-core temperatures.

The founding member of Performance Recovery and now its Head of Department, Dr. Shona Halson, began at the AIS in 2002. During her PhD she specialised in overtraining, particularly fatigue, investigating hormonal responses to overtraining and overreaching as well as carbohydrate metabolism, performance and mood changes. Her work at the AIS centres on recovery which is essential for athletes when high levels of fatigue are present.

Dr. Halson explains why Australia is one of the leaders in Performance Recovery.

’As athletes train harder and harder and place more demands on their body and their mind, we need to help them to continue to train at a high level, to minimise excessive fatigue and injury; and to ensure that when they compete they have as low levels of fatigue as possible,’ Dr Halson said.

‘Many other countries view it as recovery from injury, the AIS does that as well in terms of our Physical Therapies Department, but we look at its application from day-to-day training and between events during competition, which is very different”.

The AIS Recovery Centre opened in 2006 and demand for these services continues to increase. Each programmed recovery session is supervised and tailored dependent on environmental conditions, type of athlete and how fatigued the athlete is.

The key recovery strategies are: hydrotherapy, sleep optimisation and compression. These are also the areas in which most of the Recovery department’s research is focussed. Dr. Halson emphasises the importance of research in this new area of high-performance sport to ensure that they can best understand how to apply these strategies using new and improved protocols.

Part of the Recovery Centre research focuses on mechanisms underlying why hydrotherapy is an effective component of athlete recovery. The main techniques used in hydrotherapy are cold water immersion and contrast water therapy, which alternates hot and cold water immersion. Dr. Halson and her colleagues assess how hydrotherapy affects an athlete’s core, skin and muscle temperature, blood flow, hormonal responses and mood responses. Through their research they are also developing sports-specific hydrotherapy protocols.

Dr. Halson considers the guidelines and education provided for athletes around sleep to be their best recovery strategy, yet, despite its importance, there is limited objective research on sleep and elite athletes. In collaboration with the University of South Australia Centre for Sleep Research, a number of sleep studies with AIS athletes are being conducted. Sleep guidelines are tailored to each athlete (based on their individual research data).

The use of compression garments is another area of research in Performance Recovery. Partnering in research and development with 2XU (who supply garments for athletes), Dr. Halson reports that there can be positive physiological, perceptual and performance effects of compression for recovery.

Dr Halson says though recovery practices have been used for centuries, it is only in the last five to six years that it has become more evidence-based. ‘As our knowledge increases and uptake of recovery by coaches increases, there has been a natural progression for recovery as a discipline,’ Dr Halson said. ‘The scientific backing, the development of facilities and implementing recovery as a more structured and formal as part of an athlete’s training program have all helped the rise of recovery.’

An evidence based approach for some of the recovery practices is a significant development in this discipline. Further to this, being able to assist athletes in getting good sleep is the next focus for the recovery at the AIS. It is understood that athletes who don’t have good sleep are more prone to illness and potentially becoming overreached. Reduced or poor quality sleep can especially affect athletes from sports requiring high levels of cognition, such as team sports, where reaction time is important and athletes need to strategise and anticipate.

The Performance Recovery Centre at the AIS is an essential component of an athlete’s training regime, but it is just as important for athletes to have access to these resources when they are competing. To that end, Dr. Halson and her colleagues plan to establish a recovery centre for Australian athletes competing at the London 2012 Olympic Games. The recovery centre will provide hydrotherapy, massage, active recovery and stretching areas, nutritional and psychological services to athletes.

The next Olympic cycle should see exciting developments in Performance Recovery with novel research into recovery and the brain being Dr. Halson’s key area of interest. Important questions she is looking to answer include whether or not the brain can be manipulated to help athletes sleep, and which recovery strategies might change brain state that could improve sleep.

’The brain controls everything and we now have better technology to understand what is happening at a neural level,’ Dr Halson said. I am very interested to see the effects of recovery on brain state.

‘Many athletes feel better when they have done recovery and I am interested to know if these changes can be observed in the brain.’

As Dr. Halson and her team are gaining an insight into sleep, recovery and brain functioning, development and implementation of these additional cutting-edge recommendations will serve to further enhance the physiological and psychological restoration of our athletes.

The Australian Institute of Sport will be hosting the inaugural AIS Performance Recovery Symposium from 12 to 13 December, 2011. Speakers from the AIS and external experts will discuss recovery strategies around sleep, travel, hydrotherapy, nutrition, physiology, psychology, compression, monitoring, and athletes with a disability