PhASRec Video Project Playlist here for viewing.

 

The effect of a sleep hygiene period on match performance, physical, physiological and psychological states of university-level soccer players (sleep study)

Soccer has increased immensely at a collegiate level as seen with increased training and competitive sessions. This can result in in sleep deprivation due to various reasons, resulting in performance decrements. Sleep is vital for optimal physical, physiological and psychological recovery for enhancing sport performance. Due to athletes often undergoing sleep deprivation, researchers have established various sleep hygiene recommendations to implement for improving sleep quality. Unfortunately, limited research is available on the effectiveness of implementing a sleep hygiene period (SHP) on various physical, physiological and psychological measures, as well as on soccer match demands and performance indicators. Therefore, this study will examine the effectiveness of implementing a SHP on various aspects vital for performance. This will be beneficial for various athletes and coaching staff to implement during their competitive season, as well as to expand on the current research available.

Dr. Adéle Broodryk

Patient experiences with anxiety and depression after total hip or knee arthroplasty: benefits of mental health assessments as an integral part of post-operative orthopaedic care

Total hip and knee joint replacements (THR/TKR) are common surgeries, due to an increasing prevalence of osteoarthritis and falls-related fractures. Anecdotally, patients have reported more anxiety and depression after trauma-related surgeries compared to elective surgery, but there is little literature comparing post-operative psychological outcomes and recovery between elective and trauma patients in public and private hospital systems, and in metropolitan compared to regional centres. Participants will be recruited from metropolitan and regional areas, must be 18 years or older and must have undergone a total hip or knee replacement in a public or private hospital. The project will investigate patient experiences of anxiety and depression pre- and post-surgery to identify common themes that may translate to improved models of care. Outcome measures include demographic data, an experiential survey, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, SF-12 QOL and VAS 0-10 Pain Scale. Outcome measures will be recorded 10-days, 6-weeks, 6-months and 12-months post-surgery.

Prof H Moss

The University Teaching in Africa (RUTA) research project within PhASRec

How do we improve the educational experiences of future Biokineticist, Kinderkineticist, Sport and Coaching Scientist and Recreation specialists?  In RUTA (a research project within PhASRec), we engage in education-based action (real-world and applied) research employing quantitative and/or qualitative methodologies. In this type of research, you will either work with health care professionals, coaches, students, patients and/or athletes. The following are the educational focus areas:  

  1. Identifying the status of and/or developing professionals possessing the skillsets and self-confidence to deliver rehabilitative, sport-specific and/or recreational experiences.
  2. Identifying the status of and/or developing professionals possessing the skillsets and self-confidence to be entrepreneurs, good communicators, leader, societal changer, innovators, critical thinkers, and/or team members who can work with others.
  3. Exploring how the current teaching modalities used within Human Movement Science develops students’ 21st century attributes, introspection and/or certain literacy skills.
  4. Exploring lecturers’ educational philosophies, teaching modalities and/or experiences of higher education whilst aiming to achieve the Department of Higher Education and North-West University’s teaching and learning strategic outcomes.
  5. Exploring alternative educational experiences focused on developing students’ 21st century attributes, introspection and/or certain literacy skills.

Dr Samantha Kahts-Kramer

Retirement Adjustment and Leisure Study

This longitudinal research project within Recreation Sciences focuses on retirement adjustment and the changes that occur in terms of leisure, physical activity, and functional and cognitive ability. The project will also investigate the role that leisure plays during the different phases of retirement adjustment. The overarching research questions of the project are: 1) How do individuals experience leisure and retirement during different stages of retirement? 2) What changes occur in terms of individuals’ leisure, as well as physical, cognitive and psychological health during the different stages of retirement? and 3) Do individuals’ leisure play a role in their psychological, physiological and cognitive wellness and adjustment to retirement? Phase 1 of the project will make use of qualitative research to inform our understanding of retirement. Phase 2 will consist of qualitative and quantitative research methods.

Dr Theron Weilbach

Rehabilitation and Human-performance Analytics using Biomechanics (ReHAB)

The ReHAB project is housed within the Physical Activity, Sport, and Recreation (PhASRec) Research Focus Area at the North-West University. Biomechanics plays a central role in both rehabilitation and performance. The ReHAB project aims to apply the principles of biomechanics that focus on injury prevention, post-injury rehabilitation, sports biomechanics, and performance enhancement. Themes within the ReHAB ongoing project include:  

  • Application of kinetic and kinematic profiling to better evaluate return-to-sport outcomes in laboratory and clinical settings in athletes with ACLR.
  • Cardiometabolic and force-velocity-power profiles of male soccer players based on the critical speed concept.
  • Effects of a customized PowerBand intervention on strength, agility, and sprint ability in field-based athletes.
  • The effects of shuttle-based high-intensity interval training and post-activation performance enhancement on physiological and neuromuscular outcomes in team-sport athletes.
  • The effects of schoolbag loading on posture and weight shifting in children.
  • Development of an electronic platform (i.e. knee brace) to quantify human knee function.

Currently the capacity of upcoming research projects would have to reside within these project domains. However, suitable research topics from potential PhD and Masters candidates that fall within the scope of the projects mentioned will be considered.

Dr Mark Kramer

The impact of changes in the nocturnal heart rate variability indices of Ultimate Frisbee players throughout a tournament on match performances

Athletes make use of different sleep strategies, especially during completion periods. However, very few studies have thus far investigated the possible effects of sleep strategies and especially indicators of sleep quality and duration on match performance. The possible link between sleep quality and match performance highlights the importance of adopting an evidence-based approach to monitor athletes’ sleeping habits during competition. One of the most promising methods to measure the quality and influence of athletes’ sleeping habits during competition periods, is the analysis of nocturnal heart rate variability (HRV). This non-invasive, cost-effective and accurate approach has a significant advantage over other methods as it does not cause disturbances in sleeping patterns. Despite the benefits of measuring athletes’ nocturnal HRV, only a few studies have investigated the changes in athletes’ nocturnal HRV during a competitive period. The possible influence of changes in athletes’ nocturnal HRV on match performances during a competition period, is also not an area not has received a lot of attention. Ultimate Frisbee, which is one of the fastest-growing sports globally, and is normally played over 3 days with 5-6 matches being completed, serves as an ideal sport to measure nocturnal HRV and the possible influence of last-mentioned changes on match performances.

Dr Christo Bisschoff

The Netball Study

Netball is an increasingly popular sport, practised by amateurs and professionals, both genders across many age groups.  The prevalence of specific lower extremity injuries is common and increasing.  Conditioning, monitoring and fitness protocols currently applied in netball to promote performance and decrease the risk of injuries are in question.  Research on the above mentioned are limited.  The aim of this study is to investigate the prevalence of selected upper and lower extremity netball injuries, in relation to specific netball monitoring, conditioning, training and fitness protocols within young female netball players, as well as the effect of an exercise intervention on these variables.  This study is a randomised controlled trial.  Understanding the prevalence as well as risks and effects of injuries in netball will assist in decreasing the risks for obtaining injuries, improve conditioning protocols, lower reoccurrence of injuries and promote individual and team performance. 

Dr Henriëtte Hammill

Investigating the relationship between physiological and physical loads, absolute and relative speeds on team match performance in semi-professional rugby union players

This specific GPS-based project was launched last year, and the data has been already collected. The project has exciting potential to investigate match performance by using the latest measures in tracking match load technology. The project has enough room to either focus on recovery through physical (Catapult’s player load) or physiological (HRV) attributes. Recovery is one of the most key factors in the modern sport era determining a team’s performance. However, in the high-pressure environments professional teams function in, non-invasive and quick interpretation of match loads is crucial to data analysts and sport scientists. Most teams used relative thresholds available in research and thus does not account for individuals that are different from the average norms. Absolute thresholds are therefore a better way to account for everyone in a team with their respective differences and therefore would be advantageous to any teams' performances. This study will aim to correct this oversight.

Dr Cobus Oosthuizen

Force signatures project

Injuries are a financial burden to teams. The goal for sports teams is to ensure an optimized strength and conditioning regime to increase performance and prevent injuries. Clinical movement screens are used to identify at risk athletes. The countermovement jump (CMJ) is a reliable movement screen to assign athlete risk. On the force-time curve, three phases during the CMJ are identified creating predictable force-signatures for the athlete in a specific sport. Discrepancies in the expected force output “signature” of an athlete, means increased injury risk. We will aim to include as many university sporting codes as possible. Force-signatures of athletes will be evaluated using the CMJ for the whole season of their sporting code. Injuries will be documented along the course of the season, while still regularly monitoring athletes. Project directions include comparing force signatures over the season, differences in sports, positional differences and previous injury effects.

Dr Mariaan van Aswegen in collaboration with Mr JPJ Stofberg

Effect of different exercise interventions on cardiovascular markers of middle-aged individuals

Sufficient and regular exercise is known to provide health benefits to individuals. During middle age, a person’s quality of life deteriorates and the risk for cardiovascular disease increases. Therefore, this study aims to determine the effect of different exercise interventions on functional- and physical performance and cardiorespiratory markers of middle-aged people to ensure an improved quality of life. The study will follow an intervention design and include persons older than 45 years.  and various cardiovascular markers will be investigated in response to different exercise interventions.

Prof Hanlie Moss
Dr T Veldsman

Exercise effects on the physiological and physical variables of post-Covid-19 persons

The short and long-term effects of Covid-19 in persons are becoming more evident with the increase of available information. Most of the detrimental health effects of Covid-19 are based on persons that were hospitalised. This study aims to determine the effects of exercise interventions on the physiological and physical health markers in persons post-Covid-19. The study will follow a pre-post exercise intervention design and include variables related to physiological markers and functional performance. Due to the nature of the study, only students enrolled as full-time post-graduate students will be considered.

Prof Hanlie Moss

Developing a motor PERFormance and physical FITness tool for low resourced communities (PERF-FIT)

Children continue to learn various motor performance skills such as hoping, running, throwing, jumping and balance that will improve their motor development. But for some with motor deficits, these skills take longer to develop, if at all. Therefore, this project is a quantitative study, with the research design focusing on a cross sectional, descriptive and an analytical approach. The main aim of the current project is to contribute to the establishing of the validity of the PERF-FIT by comparing it to standardized tests. Known group validity is established through a priori testing of children across different ages and genders. These findings, together with the lack of findings from a South African context, lend to the importance of designing a tool that can be implemented in South African communities in order to identify South African norm values. The PERF-FIT test battery will be developed to provide a set of valid, reliable, feasible, and cheap field‐based motor performance items for the assessment of health‐related physical fitness in children in low resourced communities. By selecting a group of children between the ages of 6 and 12 years old residing in low-resourced areas we intend to test the proposed tool on validity and reliability. In this known-group validity research study, children will be expected to perform the following tasks: Bouncing and catching a ball; Throwing and catching a ball; Jumping; Hopping on one leg; Balancing tasks while standing still; and Balancing tasks while moving. From the study, we expect to compare standardized measures for motor performance and fitness levels for children between the ages of 6 years old to 12 years old that will be applied as an outcome measure to screen and identify early motor deficits or delays in children in low resourced areas.

Prof Dané Coetzee

Exercise oncology study

Cancer is treated through clinical adjuvant therapy which often imposes various side-effects on the patient. Cancer patients and survivors experience various benefits from self-directed or supervised exercise, which negate some of these side-effects. Benefits of physical activity include, but are not limited to; improved physical functioning, improved mood states, lower depression and anxiety and even decreased nausea.
In first world countries such as Europe, Australia and America have dedicated exercise oncology centers. Exercise oncology forms part of their treatment plan, whereas in South Africa, there is a need to create an active link between the treating oncologist and the biokineticist, to allow easier access to exercise groups or exercise treatment in a safe and controlled exercise facility.

Dr Mariaan van Aswegen

The sustainability of physical activity participation and nutrition education through the use of a mobile application

A sustainable physical activity intervention and nutrition education is a goal for many working in the field of community health.  This research study will develop a mobile application to guide community health workers in implementing a physical activity intervention and guide them with respect to the correct nutrition education. The health-worker application will also be combined with an application for the participants that provides tips and titbits of information to accomplish behaviour change in these participants. The initial investigation phase (identifying the problem, developing a design brief and formulating a design specification) and the planning phase (designing and planning the mobile application) will flow from the investigative (first) phase of the study.  After the development of the mobile application the intervention will take place and the impact of the intervention will be tested.

Prof H Moss

The heart of walking: assessing the risk of fall during walking at maximal speed and exploring heart rate variability in older adults

Physical abilities decrease with age due to inevitable decline of physiological and cognitive functions (e.g., Cruz-Jentoft et al., 2014). Heart rate variability is a promising health (Ogliari et al., 2015) and behaviour (Laborde et al. 2015) indicator in older adults and may reflect the adaptivity of the brain-body system (Ernst, 2017) associated with physical and cognitive functioning in older adults (Albinet et al., 2010; Freitas et al., 2018). Tripping during walking is the predominant cause of falls in older adults (Blake et al., 1988; Berg et al., 1997). Tripping may result in insufficient foot clearance during the swing phase to avoid uneven ground or unseen obstacles. As ‘hurrying too much’ is the primary self-reported circumstance of fall (Berg et al., 1997), assessing heart rate variability on a maximal walking speed task seems to be of interest as the task may alter foot clearance parameters (Barrett et al., 2010).

Watch the video on The heart of walking here

Body composition and physical activity in 6-8 years old children

The epidemic of obesity is on the increase in South Africa. This is evident at a younger age than decades ago. The aim of the study is to determine physical activity levels and body composition together with energy expenditure in 6- to 8-year-old children by means of isotope application.    

PI Prof A Monyeki

Cardiorespiratory and haematological responses as well as endurance performance between elite athletes and cyclists after a combined endurance and inspiratory muscle (IMT) training program

A lot of contradictory results exist with regard to IMT. Furthermore, no investigation has thus far compared the possible benefits of IMT between two different groups of endurance athletes or the possible influence of IMT on the HRV of endurance athletes. In addition, a lot of uncertainty remains with regard to the usefulness of heart rate variability as a measure to gauge the aerobic kinetics and capacity of endurance athletes. It is against this background and shortcomings with regard to existing research that the objectives of this project are to: determine the effects of a six-week endurance and IMT training program compared to an endurance training program alone, on selected cardiorespiratory and hematological responses as well as endurance performance of endurance athletes; compare cardiorespiratory and hematological responses as well as endurance performance between elite middle- and long-distance athletes and cyclists after a six-week combined endurance training and IMT program; determine changes in HRV parameters due to an incremental V̇O2max test in amateur, male endurance athletes and road cyclists; determine if HRV during an incremental test can be used to estimate ventilatory threshold 1 (VT1) and 2 (VT2) in amateur, male endurance athletes and road cyclists; determine the significance, adequacy, accurateness and usefulness of HRV parameters to serve as predictors of amateur, male endurance athletes and road cyclists’ aerobic capacity and kinetics.

PI Prof Ben Coetzee

Cognitive functioning in team sport participants

Scientific research indicates that better cognitive abilities provide athletes a competitive edge. Cognitive abilities such as attention (often referred to as focus or concentration), situational awareness and decision-making are some of the higher-order cognitive functions which can be enhanced by NeuroTracker training. In broad, the project will aim to investigate the level of team sport participants’ cognitive abilities, to determine the effect of NeuroTracker training on their cognitive abilities, investigate positional differences of players’ cognitive functioning as well as to consider the transfer effect of NeuroTracker training to real-world, sport-specific situations. We will aim to involve participants of the following team sports: netball, rugby, field hockey and soccer.

PI Prof Ankebe Kruger and Mr Retief Broodryk

Developing a motor PERFormance and physical FITness tool for low resourced communities (PERF-FIT)

Children continue to learn various motor performance skills such as hopping, running, throwing, jumping and balance that will improve their motor development. But for some with motor deficits, these skills take longer to develop, if at all. Therefore, the main aim of the project is to contribute to the establishing of the validity of the PERF-FIT by comparing it to different standardized test batteries. These findings, together with the lack of findings from a South African context, lend to the importance of designing a tool that can be implemented in South African communities in order to identify South African norm values.

The PERF-FIT test battery will be developed to provide a set of valid, reliable, feasible, and cheap field‐based motor performance items for the assessment of health‐related physical fitness in children in low resourced communities. By selecting a group of children between the ages of 6 and 12 years old residing in low-resourced areas we intend to test the proposed tool on validity and reliability. In this known-group validity research study, children will be expected to perform tasks that include locomotor-, manipulation-, balance- and anaerobic activities. From the study, we expect to compare standardized measures for motor performance and fitness levels for children between the ages of 6 years old to 12 years old that will be applied as an outcome measure to screen and identify early motor deficits or delays in children in low resourced areas. This project will be conducted in collaboration with UCT.

PI Prof Dané Coetzee

Effect of an exercise intervention in persons with major depression

Exercise as treatment for depression reveals similar advantages as the use of medication. However, the current evidence is based on depression scores collected by means of questionnaires. Literature on the effect of an exercise intervention on biological markers of depression and the relationship with depression questionnaires is non-existent. The objectives of the study are to determine the relationship between physical activity, fitness, and depressive state and selected biomarkers of depression of individuals treated for major depression. Furthermore, the effect of an exercise intervention on physical activity, fitness and depressive state, and selected biomarkers of depression in individuals treated for major depression, classified as mild to moderate as scored with the Beck’s Depression Inventory Scale (BDI) (score = 10–29).

A randomised control trial will be performed with 100 participants randomly allocated to an experimental and a control group. The control group will receive two sessions of stretching exercises per week, while the experimental group will be performing combined aerobic and resistance training three times per week. The intervention will last 12 weeks. Both the experimental and control groups will receive standard psychotherapy from their preferred therapist for the intervention period. The benefits of the study are that the participants are expected to improve on the depressive scale and the scientific society will understand the relationship between biological markers of depression and the subjective scoring of depressive scale questionnaires. 

 PI Prof Hanlie Moss

Incidence of injuries and conditioning protocols in netball players: The Netball Study

Netball is a global increasingly popular sport, practised by amateurs and professionals, of both genders across a large part of the life span.  Yet, the incidents and prevalence of specific lower extremity netball injuries are growing and very common.  More so, the conditioning, monitoring and fitness protocols currently applied in netball to promote performance and decrease the risk of injuries are in question.  Furthermore, research on the above mentioned are limited.  The aim of this study therefore is to investigate the prevalence of selected upper and lower extremity netball injuries, in relation to specific netball monitoring, conditioning, training and fitness protocols within young female netball players, as well as the effect of an exercise intervention on these variables. 

This study will be a randomised controlled trial in young amateur and elite female netball players.  PI Dr. Henriëtte Hammill and Dr. Yolandi Willemse

Internal and External Monitoring of Performance, Recovery and Sleep during a Tournament (IEMPReST-study)

Participating in sport at a collegiate level have grown immensely, leading to athletes seeking advantages in training and competition to give them an edge above their competitors. Competing in a tournament places a great physiological, psychological and physical demand on the athletes, especially if the competitions are only separated with a few days. In this regard, recovery is seen as a vital component of their daily regime to hasten their “return back to play” state. Therefore, this study will aim to firstly,evaluate the effects of a sport tournament on the physiological, physical and psychological states of a range of collegiate athletes, and secondly, to evaluate whether the implementation of two recovery strategies (sleep hygiene and pneumatic compression therapy), might enhance their internal and external performance indicators. This might provide athletes and managing team with the adequate resources to enhance performance and minimize the risk of injuries.

PI Dr. Adéle Broodryk

NW-CHILD study: A longitudinal analysis of health risk factors, growth and development among 7-13 year old children

Although many efforts are made to improve the health and well-being of people living in SA, many challenges exist to the health and optimal development of the 18,3 million children growing up in this low- to middle-income country. Health risk factors among paediatric populations, such as increasing sedentary behaviour, lack of motor and physical fitness, growth retardation and development of non-communicable diseases such as obesity and hypertension, have hampering effects on various developmental domains of the child, resulting in long-term consequences. Backlogs in motor proficiency, physical fitness and malnutrition and associated scholastic problems influence psycho-motor, emotional and social development, with negative effects on their quality of life. This research aimed to determine the longitudinal effects of health risk factors over a period of six years (ages 7–13 years) and included factors such as living in high-risk environments and associated poor growth and development, increasing levels of hypertension, overweight and obesity, sedentary behaviour and nutritional deficiencies. Motor proficiency delays and the long-term effects they have on physical activity behaviour and scholastic success were also investigated. The NW-CHILD longitudinal study is a stratified random sample that started at baseline with more than 800 participants living in the North-West Province of South Africa and included two repeated measurements of health risk variables and motor proficiency over a six-year period (2010, 2013, 2016). Baseline measurements were performed in 2010 (Grade 1 learners, M = 6,78+0,49 years), with first follow-up measurements in 2013 (Grade 4 year, 574), and final measures in 2016 (Grade 7 year). Standardised measurements and questionnaires were used and the results were analysed on an ongoing basis by means of the Statistica for Windows/SAS programs. The outcomes of the study will benefit the current but also the future health of children, as existing knowledge can be translated to preventive programmes, strategies and the development of risk markers that can play a preventative role in health and developmental problems in children.

PI Prof A Pienaar

Physiological and physical performance indicators of male and female field-hockey players

Over the past decade several rule changes have been implemented by the Fédération Internationale de Hockey (FIH) with the most significant ones being the “self pass” free hit rule, unlimited substitutions and a change in the format from two 35min halves to four 15min quarters. The purpose for above-mentioned rule changes was to increase the intensity of matches, but limited literature is currently available to confirm whether these changes were effective in increasing the intensity. Due to the format of hockey changing we can hypothesize that the demands of the match has also changed, which will most likely require changes in the way players need to be prepared for matches during training.  Furthermore, the physical characteristics and components contributing to successful match performances also needs some investigation. If the demands of hockey matches have changed it would warrant researchers to investigate whether current evaluation tools are still relevant to determine the physical traits needed to optimally perform during matches.

PI Prof Martinique Sparks

Reducing the age-related deficits in cognitive and motor functioning of elderly

The general population is growing older due to longer life expectancy and improvements in medical treatments and technologies. This increase in the aging population, impose an increased burden on health systems. A large body of evidence exist supporting the role of regular physical activity in combating various non-communicable diseases. However, physical activity decreases in the aging population at a rapid rate. It can be due to many reasons, but the ability to perform activities of daily living, is directly related to the motor and cognitive functioning of an individual. It was presented in previous research that this ability decline with age, contributing to a reduction in daily activities, which include physical activity and exercise. This project aims to investigate the relationship between a perceptual-cognitive training, motor learning and performance improvements in the elderly.

PI Prof Stanislaw.Czyz

Relationships between growth characteristics, physical activity and neuromotor milestone development of 6-12-month-old infants from different socio-economic backgrounds in the Northwest Province: GrowActive-Infant study

The first thousand days from birth, especially the first twelve months from birth, are considered a unique window of opportunity to establish a solid foundation for an infant’s overall development. During this period, infants’ movement complexity increases, and they adapt and develop strategies for different life situations, paving the way for the development of well-coordinated motor skills. Although there are well defined timeframes at which infants should have reached certain milestones, various factors, such as growth, physical activity (PA), motivation to explore, opportunities, necessary stimulation and the environment, play a significant role in infants’ development. This research study, aims to determine the effect of possible anthropometric growth- (head and upper arm circumference, weight, length, arm length, arm span, leg length and sitting height) and differences in physical activity patterns (infant actigraph) on the neuromotor milestone development (reflexes, stationary, locomotor, object manipulation, grasping, visual-motor) of 6 to 12 month old babies from varying socio-economic statuses. The GrowActive-Infant study is a cross-sectional study, including availability samples from areas within the Potchefstroom surroundings in South Africa. The study aims to include a minimum of 100 babies in each month group (6, 7, 8, 9, 10 ,11 and 12 months), with 50 babies from high- and 50 babies from low SES areas, culminating to a minimum total of 700 babies. Measurements are planned to start in February 2020. Standardized measurements and questionnaires will be used and the results will be analysed on an ongoing basis by means of the Statistica for Windows/ SAS programs. The outcomes of the study will benefit the current but also the future health of babies as knowledge gained will shed light on the possible influence of impaired or advanced growth and PA patterns on infants’ neuro-motor milestone development. Furthermore, information in this regard can help with the planning and implementation of effective interventions to help infants reach their milestones optimally and promote PA in children, which could reduce obesity in infants.

PI Mr Barry Gerber

The Exercise, Arterial Modulation and Nutrition in Youth South Africa (ExAMIN Youth SA) study, 6-8 year old children

The current global widespread obesity and early cardiovascular deterioration incidence are two of the most important future health care challenges. Physical inactivity and its associated unhealthy dietary intake among adolescents are of great concern, especially in a South African setting in which no current monitoring occurs to describe the impact of this sedentary and unhealthy lifestyle on cardiovascular health. The significance of this proposed study will be to address the critical areas in which unfavourable arterial modulation related to dietary behaviours and physical activity are observed and strategize appropriate future interventions to optimize healthy ageing by targeted biomarkers. This current study of which Prof Ruan Kruger from the Hypertension in Africa Research Team (HART) is the Principle investigator, aims to build on previous findings to identify potential contributing factors that may affect health outcomes in South African children adversely. Additionally, the study will cross-compare data with international centers on these health outcomes. The focus of the study is on children between the ages of 6 and 8 years and include various motor and fitness tests. Prof Anita Pienaar from PhASRec in the School of Human Movement Science is a co-investigator in this project and responsible for the physical and motor measurements as part of the project. The baseline measurements are currently concluded and included measurements of various physical and motor tests on a subsample of 661 apparently healthy children residing in the Potchefstroom and Klerksdorp areas of South Africa.   

Prof Anita Pienaar

The influence of schoolbags on physical and functional health of children from grade 3 to 11 of the Tlokwe Municipality

The adverse impact of carrying heavy schoolbag is a global parental concern. This research project involves the surveillance of the children in grade 3 residing in the North-West province who carries school backpacks. The mass the schoolbag, change in posture when the child is carrying the bag (loaded phase) and not carrying the bag (unloaded phase), will be digital recorded. A comparative analysis between manual recordings of specific joint versus electronic images captured will be made. Kinanthropometric measures of body symmetry will be measured to determine whether carrying backs on shoulder produces postural symmetry. Other factors, which influence the health of the child will be also measured such as daily physical activity (measured through a Fitbit watch and questionnaire) and the impact of schoolbag carriage has on the child's lung capacity will also be measured. The objective is to determine whether carrying heavy school backpacks has an adverse impact on the child health. The study will track the participants when they are in grade 7 and finally in grade 11.

PI Dr Terry Ellapen

The external and internal match demands on the readiness of Ultimate Frisbee players to perform during participation in a tournament

Although Ultimate Frisbee is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, with a growth in participant numbers of more or less 31% from 2017 to 2018 in the United States of America alone, only a few researchers have to date investigated the physical demands of Ultimate Frisbee during match play. It is unclear whether the internal and external demands of Ultimate Frisbee match play will be similar in South African players as their international counterparts. Furthermore, researchers suggest that future research should also include more quantifiable data such as heart rate variability (HRV) and other measures so that the potential mechanisms provoking fatigue can be described. It is against this background and shortcomings with regard to existing research that the objectives of this project are to determine: the external and internal match demands of Ultimate Frisbee during participation in a tournament; the influence of external and internal match demands on the readiness of Ultimate Frisbee players to perform during participation in a tournament; the influence of pre-competition diet, hydration status, sleep quality and quantity as well as mood states on the internal stress, readiness to perform, and neurological function of Ultimate Frisbee players during a tournament.

PI Dr Christo Bisshoff

The sustainability of physical activity participation and nutrition education through the use of a mobile application

Sustainable physical activity intervention and nutrition education is a goal for many working in the field of community health.  This research study will develop a mobile application to guide community health workers in implementing a physical activity intervention and guide them with respect to the correct nutrition education. 

The health-worker application will also be combined with an application for the participants that provide tips and tidbits of information to accomplish behaviour change in these participants. The initial investigation phase (identifying the problem, developing a design brief and formulating a design specification) and the planning phase (designing and planning the mobile application) will flow from the investigative (first) phase of the study.  After the development of the mobile application the intervention will take place and the impact of the intervention will be tested.  

PI Chrisna Ravyse