Monday, April 19, 2010

Looking to improve your fitness? Try using your eyes.

By Leah Poulton, Communications & Marketing Office

Watching a visual simulation while training makes you work harder, say two Bachelor of Physical Education and Coaching students.

For their project for Student Research Days, Ryan Liang and Andrew Bustamante tested a number of their active peers to find out whether watching anticipatory visuals would have an effect on heart rate and overall performance while riding a stationary bike. Each test subject completed the same course twice – once while watching a visual simulation of the course, including hills, and once without.

They discovered that with the visual simulation, the subjects not only perceived the course as harder, but actually worked harder as well. Their overall power output and heart rates were significantly higher than when they rode the same course without the visuals.

This suggests that when athletes can anticipate the challenge ahead (such as a steep hill), they may start working harder sooner – much as they would in real life. This means they could be better prepared for the actual course or event.

However, their finding doesn’t just benefit real athletes. Everyone can use this technology to work harder and burn more calories, says the pair.

“If you have access to something like a simulated course or even a stationary bike that shows you digitally where hills are, it will benefit you if you want to work harder,” says Bustamante.

Student Research Days is an annual event that showcases the research of Douglas College students. This year's event, held on March 30-31, 2010, featured nearly 200 students from across all College Faculties presenting over 100 research project posters on a diverse range of topics. The event continues to raise the profile and enthusiasm for student research at the College.

Next year's student research days will be held on March 28, 2011 at David Lam Campus and March 29, 2011 at New Westminster Campus. Look for registration forms and a call for exhibitors in the Fall, check the Student Research Days page for more information.

With photos and contributions from Trista Orchard