Diabetes Honours Project and Scholarships

Posted on December 21, 2009

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UPDATE 23/12. This application was awarded a $50,000 grant by ACT Health and Medical Research Council.

A new exercise and diabetes research project, including Honours student opportunities, will get underway in 2010. The project which will include scholarships for two Honours students will look into diabetes, exercise and dietary anti-oxidants.

Chronic disease relating to lifestyle contributes a large portion of public expenditure but can be reduced considerably through physical activity.

Cycle ergometer, Image by KMJ

In Australia, physical inactivity is attributable to ~$400m per year in direct health care costs, although the indirect costs on society are estimated to be double that figure. Physical activity can improve chronic disease risk factors including inflammation, insulin sensitivity and improve health outcomes, although exercise compliance is typically poor. Mechanisms for optimising the efficacy of exercise are then important in modern day life. This project will investigate the potential increased efficacy of eccentric exercise, over conventional physical activity, in addressing this issue.

Eccentric exercise differs from conventional concentric exercise in that work is performed whilst the muscle is lengthening, as opposed to shortening, akin to downhill walking compared to uphill walking. This work performed during muscle lengthening can provide a powerful stimulus for adaptation. Eccentric exercise can also overcome many of the hurdles accompanying the treatment of complex disease states by enabling a powerful stimulus for adaptation at lower heart rates and blood pressure than conventional exercise.

Dietary manipulation is also used to treat chronic disease and this project will additionally consider the impact of a common nutritional practice on the adaptation to exercise. Recent research suggests that inappropriate antioxidant supplementation may counteract the beneficial effects of exercise on health rather than enhance it.

We propose to investigate the efficacy of eccentric exercise and interaction of antioxidant supplementation on inflammatory markers and insulin sensitivity in early stage diabetes. This project promises to provide insights in to an improved exercise treatment of chronic disease, specifically in a diabetic population. Enhanced knowledge on the use and misuse of dietary manipulations will also assist in overall population health.

Interested students should contact Ben Rattray. Further information about the UCNISS Honours program is also available.

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