Heart rate variability (HRV) and recovery (HRR) as well as Global Positional System (GPS) match analysis characteristics in relation to match results in African male badminton and squash players

Researchers have never investigated the match characteristics of African badminton and squash players through either notational or GPS analyses. In addition, despite the possible benefits of evaluating and monitoring athletes’ HRV and HRR as effective tools of performance readiness, the badminton and squash fraternities have not made use of these measurement tools to evaluate players’ performances. It is against this background that the objectives of this study are to determine:

  • whether pre-match, in-match, resting and post-match HRV, as well as post-match and in-match HRR, can serve as significant predictors of the performance levels of male, elite, African badminton and squash singles players;

the relationship between HRV, HRR and several recovery indicators for different match periods in male, elite, African badminton and squash singles players;

the relationship between GPS-, HR-, HRV- and HRR-related variables in male, elite, African badminton and squash singles players;

  • the GPS-determined match characteristics that act as predictors of the group classification of successful and less successful male badminton and squash singles players;
  • the relationship between the results of an internal and external match-load determining method in male badminton and squash singles players.  Prof B Coetzee (ben.coetzee@nwu.ac.za,

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

There are many contradictory results with regard to IMT. Furthermore, only one study has thus far investigated the activation of the inspiratory muscle metaboreflex during an acute inspiratory pressure threshold loading in endurance-trained athletes (rowers). In addition, 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. It is against this background and shortcomings with regard to existing research that the objectives of this project are to:

  • determine the acute cardiorespiratory responses to different loads of IMT in endurance athletes;
  • determine the effects of a six-week endurance and IMT training programme compared to an endurance training programme alone, on selected cardiorespiratory and haematological responses as well as endurance performance of endurance athletes;
  • compare cardiorespiratory and haematological responses as well as endurance performance between elite middle- and long-distance athletes and cyclists after a six-week combined endurance training and IMT programme. Prof B Coetzee (ben.coetzee@nwu.ac.za)

The effects of an in-service teacher education and support programme on Physical Education teachers and their learners

(Project proposal has just been accepted). This project, consisting of two phases, seeks to address the need for in-service PE teacher training by providing a five-day in-service PE teacher training programme, followed by a follow-up support programme for the teachers in training. The implementation of the training and support programme will be evaluated in Phase 1 by means of a pilot study using qualitative methodology, incorporating individual interviews, open-ended questionnaires and observations. In Phase 2 of the project, the effect of the training and support programme on the perceptions of teachers and their learners will be assessed using qualitative methodology by means of individual and focus group interviews. Also in Phase 2 of the project, the effect of the programme on the fitness and physical activity levels of the learners will be assessed using quantitative methodology by means of standardised physical and motor fitness tests and a questionnaire.  Dr D du Toit (dorita.dutoit@nwu.ac.za)

An experiential learning-teaching model for recreation modules in higher education

“Experiential learning stimulates original thinking and develops a wide range of thinking strategies and perceptual skills which are not called forth by books or lectures” (Williams, 1983). However, many lecturers still rely on a behaviouristic approach with books and lectures to teach students in a practical field such as recreation and leisure studies. The varied field of recreation requires a wide range of knowledge and skills of graduates who want to excel in their careers. Researchers identified the most desired skills and competencies for entry-level professionals in the recreation field as communication skills; patience; ambition; adaptability; responsibility; supervisory skills; organisational behaviour skills; leadership skills; passion; experience; teamwork; and problem-solving skills. Current traditional lecturer-focused teaching methods will not support students in developing these skills. According to various authors the advantages of experiential learning are that it develops students who are better prepared for the workforce as they have an enhanced multicultural understanding and sensitivity. Students also demonstrate better ethical reasoning, higher levels of creativity, and improved lateral and critical thinking skills. In this study I will investigate how the  “Twin Cycle Experiential Learning Model” (TCELM) of Bergsteiner and Avery (2014) can be applied as a teaching foundation by contextualising it with the input of experts in the field of recreation education in order to create a suitable experiential learning-teaching model for recreation modules. The model will be adjusted so that it can be applied and evaluated in terms of effectiveness and workability in a recreation module. A multiphase method design will be applied as the study will be implemented over three phases. Quantitative and qualitative research methods will be conducted sequentially across phases and also concurrently within some phases. Ms C Schreck (cornelia.schreck@nwu.ac.za)

Validity of various functional fitness items in a Down syndrome adult population 

Research on the effect of various exercise interventions in persons with intellectual disabilities is rare. Protocols that are to be used in this population are not always validated. The aim of this study will be to validate various functional fitness items as well as to determine the effects of different exercise interventions on the functional abilities and health risks in persons with intellectual disabilities.  Dr P Boer (PieterHenk.Boer@nwu.ac.za)

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. Prof A Pienaar (anita.pienaar@nwu.ac.za)

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. Prof A Monyeki (andries.monyeki@nwu.ac.za

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, as well as 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.

Biomechanics of gait in orthopaedic conditions

The effects of various orthopaedic conditions affect the gait. The aim of this project is to investigate the adaptations in gait in persons with knee and hip arthrosis, and how specific rehabilitation interventions can influence these adaptations. Dr H Hammil(12782211@nwu.ac.za)

Craven Week 2018

In 1989 a full anthropometric profile was collected on high school Craven Week rugby players.  This will be repeated almost 30 years after the first study was done.  At the Craven Week in 2018 a full anthropometric profile of the high school players will be conducted. The two studies will be compared to give us an indication of the morphological changes that have taken place in the Craven Week players over the past 30 years.

Sympathetic activity and Ambulatory Blood Pressure in Africans (SABPA) prospective cohort study

Adapting to an over-demanding stressful urban environment may exhaust a person’s psychophysiological resources to cope with these demands, and can lead to sympathetic nervous system dysfunction. The evidence that an urban-dwelling lifestyle (physical inactivity/sedentary behaviour, poor diet, smoking and alcohol misuse, etc.) may be detrimental to the cardiometabolic health of Africans motivated the design of the Sympathetic activity and Ambulatory Blood Pressure in Africans (SABPA) prospective cohort study. We aimed to determine neural mechanistic pathways involved in emotional distress and vascular remodelling.


Data collection included sociodemographics, lifestyle habits, psychosocial battery and genetic analysis, mental stress responses mimicking daily life stress (blood pressure and haemostatic, cardiometabolic, endothelial and stress hormones). Target organ damage was assessed in the brain, heart, kidney, blood vessels and retina. A unique, highly phenotyped cohort is presented that can address the role of a hyperactive sympathetic nervous system and neural response pathways contributing to the burden of cardiometabolic diseases in Africans.

Functional fitness in adults with Down syndrome or intellectual disability

Exercise or recreational activities as interventions for people with Down syndrome.

Validating fitness tests for tennis or soccer players

Validating fitness tests for tennis, hockey or soccer players.


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. (Chrisna.Ravyse@nwu.ac.za).

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. (Ankebe.Kruger@nwu.ac.za or Retief.Broodryk@nwu.ac.za)