Hi Alex, first question, nice and gentle, you’re young(ish), you’re mid way through a PhD and you’re working as an Exercise Physiologist? As a kid did you think you would be in this position?
That's a great question, as a kid I had no real ideas of what I wanted to do when I got older but I was always very active playing almost every sport I could. Even at the end of high school, I had no real set idea of what I wanted to do, so I started out in an undergraduate Sports Science degree. Subsequently, I completed my masters in Exercise Rehabilitation, where I discovered how beneficial exercise can be and I knew wanted to use the knowledge and skills I had developed to help people improve their health and wellness through exercise.
As a result of a little hard work I was also offered a PhD position. Which brings me to today where I am juggling both my work as an Exercise Physiologist (EP) and my studies at the University.
Can you briefly describe your research project?
Yeah absolutely. I am investigating the interaction between bone and blood vessels and whether there is a cross talk between the two systems. Specifically, I am examining whether a protein that is produced in our bones called osteocalcin can have an impact on the function of our blood vessels and can prevent cardiovascular disease.
You may be thinking that it's ridiculous and, how can they be linked? But the more I learn about the body the more obvious it becomes that our whole body is linked and all our organs and systems are working together and talking to each other.
Q The phrase "exercise is medicine" gets thrown around a fair bit. Can you explain the nuance of this a bit more? For example different types of exercise (loaded, endurance, high intensity etc) can be useful for different types of conditions right?
Yeah, this phrase does get thrown around and for a good reason I believe. You often hear that if the benefits of exercise could be captured in a pill it would be the most widely prescribed drug ever. This comes back to my point earlier about all aspects of the body being linked. If a medication is prescribed it can sometimes have negative side effects on another system or organ in our body. But if exercise is properly prescribed, there will only be positive side effects that occur as a result. That's right, as EP's we prescribe different forms of exercise based on the different types of conditions we see, to get the best outcomes for our clients. But on a more basic level, most forms of exercise can have a positive impact on all aspects of our physical heath, as well as in our mental, emotional, social health. There is even a website called Exercise is Medicine Australia (http://exerciseismedicine.com.au/) which promotes these benefits.
We’re fascinated by technology and innovation at the TNC, what new and innovative things do you see on the horizon of the health world?
I think the sky is the limit, technology is progressing and improving so fast that I can't imagine what we will have access to in just a few years. We already have applications and programs where we can prescribe exercise to people in their own home. There is talk of hand held and affordable ECG devices that will allow EPs at a private practice like the TNC to quickly and easily determine someones' cardiovascular response to exercise, which before now has been limited to big organisations such as hospitals and universities.
I am excited for whatever it is that is developed as I know it will only improve the service I can provide and improve the outcomes for my clients.