Our ability to exercise - and keep going - is a key determinant of good health. Persistent inactivity reduces tolerance to exercise and can lead to a downward spiral that is debilitating in the healthy elderly, and can contribute to the development of chronic disease.
To better understand how the bodies of different individuals cope with exercise, researchers from the universities of Leeds and Liverpool are working with elite athletes, in collaboration with UK Sport's Research and Innovation programme, and groups of healthy young and elderly people.
In a project funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the team will be working with the British Cycling Science team to examine the exercise responses of these groups. They aim to produce a model to provide greater insight into how the physiology of elite athletes is optimised to sustain high levels of exercise. The model will be used to better understand why exercise tolerance is limited in sedentary or elderly individuals, and as the basis for informing interventions in patients with heart and lung conditions where exercise intolerance is a primary characteristic.
Lead researcher Dr Harry Rossiter says: "We know that having a powerful heart, efficient lungs and fatigue-resistant muscles that are economical in turning chemical energy into mechanical power are each important to be able to sustain physical activity. But the exceptional performance of elite athletes is not predicted simply from knowing the capacity of heart, lungs or muscles. The body is like an engine; not only does each component have to do their own job well, but their responses also need to be integrated effectively.
The research group will use non-invasive technologies such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at the Magnetic Resonance and Image Analysis Research Centre at the University of Liverpool. This will enable researchers to look inside the exercising body and investigate how different people integrate the responses of the heart, lungs and muscles to generate and sustain high power production.
"Tuning these elements to work together allows exercise tolerance to be optimised, as with elite athletes. By examining how these systems interact we hope to better understand why some people have high levels of endurance and others do not," says Dr Rossiter.
The two year project will run until May 2013 and BBSRC has recently made a second award to Dr Rossiter under its Japan Partnering Awards scheme. This award additional funding over a four year period to allow the UK scientists working on this project access to expertise in central and peripheral blood flow dynamics at four Japanese Universities. It is expected that combining expertise in the UK and Japan will facilitate the development of computational models to elucidate how integration of the circulatory, neuromuscular and pulmonary systems in prolonging exercise contributes to health, quality of life, and longevity.
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Graham Askew, Simon Walker, BBSRC (Jan 2018), £699,781
Jennifer Tomlinson, Royal Society (Jan 2018), £512,801
Alex O'Neill and colleagues in Chemistry, BBSRC (Nov 2017), £431,865
Tom Bennett, BBSRC (Oct 2017), £523,679
Neil Ranson, Darren Tomlinson, BBSRC (Oct 2017), £494,318
Nikita Gamper, BBSRC (Oct 2017), £490,426
Amanda Bretman and colleagues from UEA, NERC (Oct 2017), £430,886
Juan Fontana, Rosetrees Trust consumables grant (Oct 2017), £22,500
Helen Miller, DSM Nutritional Products AG (Sep 2017), £69,988
Neil Ranson, Juan Fontana, Mark Harris, Michelle Peckham, Ralf Richter, Peter Stockley, Patricija Van Oosten-Hawle and colleagues in Engineering, FMH and MAPS, Wellcome Trust Equipment Call (Sep 2017), £418,000
Jamie Johnston, Physiological Society (Sep 2017), £10,000
Frank Sobott, Adrian Goldman, Mark Harris, Andrew Macdonald, Stephen Muench, Sheena Radford and colleagues in FMH and MAPS, Wellcome Trust Equipment Call (Aug 2017), £415,000
Ralf Richter, David Brockwell, Eric Hewitt, Jessica Kwok, Emanuele Paci and MAPS/FMH, BBSRC (Jun 2017), £600,000
Eric Blair, Adrian Whitehouse, Nicola Stonehouse, Alison Baker, Richard Bayliss, Joan Boyes, Ryan Seipke, Sally Boxall and MAPS/FMH, BBSRC (Jun 2017), £376,000
Stefan Kepinski, Yoselin Benitez-Alfonso, Tom Bennett, Michelle Peckham, BBSRC (Jun 2017), £331,000
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Vas Ponnambalam, Darren Tomlinson, Stephen Wheatcroft, BHF (May 2017), £107,878
Graham Askew in collaboration with Bangor University, BBSRC (Mar 2017), £477,383
Stephen Muench, BBSRC (Mar 2017), £132,945
Nic Stonehouse, MRC (Mar 2017), £906,341
Bill Kunin, Steve Sait, BBSRC (Mar 2017), £602,831
Adrian Goldman, EU (Mar 2017), £546,576
Sheena Radford, Wellcome Trust (Mar 2017), £1,836,482
Tom Bennett, Royal Society (Mar 2017), £15,000
Jamie Johnston, Royal Society (Mar 2017), £15,000
Beatrice Filippi, Royal Society (Mar 2017), £15,000
Ryan Seipke, BBSRC (Feb 2017), £52,116
Mary O'Connell, BBSRC (Feb 2017), £46,986
Hannah Dugdale, NERC (Feb 2017), £504,138
Anastasia Zhuravleva, EPSRC (Jan 2017), £100,792
Richard Bayliss, Cancer Research UK (Jan 2017), £1,600,000
John Barr, EU (Jan 2017), £339,000
Mark Harris, Royal Society (Jan 2017), £250,000
Alison Dunn, NERC (Jan 2017), £105,000
Alex Breeze, Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund (Jan 2017), £180,000
Alison Dunn, NERC (Dec 2016), £18,000
Lisa Collins, BBSRC (Dec 2016), £1,681,835
Brendan Davies, Leverhulme Trust (Dec 2016), £247,555
Alan Benson, Mark Drinkhill, Ed White, British Heart Foundaion (Dec 2016), £217,223
Adrian Goldman, Royal Society (Dec 2016), £82,999
Lisa Roberts, Alex Breeze, Brendan Davies, Timothy Devinney, Oliver Harlen, Joseph Holden, Anthea Hucklesby, Pamela Jones, Philip Mellor, RCUK (Nov 2016), £484,172
Lisa Roberts, Alex Breeze, Brendan Davies, Timothy Devinney, Oliver Harlen, Joseph Holden, Anthea Hucklesby, Pamela Jones, Philip Mellor, Wellcome Trust (Nov 2016), £119,343
Katie Field, Rank Prize Funds (Nov 2016), £20,000
Jessica Kwok, Royal Society (Nov 2016), £14,948
John Ladbury, Cancer Research UK (Oct 2016), £4,250