Research into what makes fit people tick

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Research into what makes fit people tick


USC Psychology Honours student Syn Wei Tan assesses an athlete who has just completed a VO2 Max test for aerobic fitness.

21 August 2013

A University of the Sunshine Coast research project is hoping to break the “exercise code” and explain the psychological and physiological reasons why some people exercise more than others.

Psychology Honours student Syn Wei Tan of Malaysia will look at how personality, passion and coping behaviour can influence an individual’s fitness and overall health. Her work will be supervised by Associate Lecturer in Psychology Dr Michelle Curran and Senior Lecturer in Exercise Physiology Dr Colin Solomon.

Dr Curran said the research would also investigate a range of physiological factors in both trained and untrained participants.

“Hopefully by studying both types of individuals we can find out what makes them both tick,” she said.

“If we can find out what factors contribute to and influence trained individuals to exercise, then it might shed some light on how the health of less active, untrained individuals can be improved.”

The research will study if an individual has a high or low level of conscientiousness, if they have a harmonious or obsessive approach to their passion and whether they adopt a problem-focused or avoidance coping style.

Dr Curran said the relationship between these factors would be compared with an exercise capacity test measuring maximal oxygen consumption, oxygen levels in the muscles and brain, the rate of perceived exertion and the age of the individual.

“By doing this, we will be able to determine what differences there are between participants, how it influences their level of physical activity and their overall health,” she said.

“We have always wondered what makes athletes operate the way they do. With this research, we will not only find how, but how we can help everyday individuals to become healthier.”

The research, which is currently underway has already tested 30 trained individuals and is now seeking 30 untrained participants. Interested participants or those seeking more information can contact the researchers at <>.

— Jessica Halls


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