Sport and Health Sciences

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Using beetroot juice to enhance sport performance

We all know that fruit and vegetables are good for you but how can dietary nitrates like beetroot juice aid your sporting performance?

Original research from Professor Andrew Jones, Dr Stephen Bailey, Dr Anni Vanhatalo, and Dr Daryl Wilkerson - along with their University of Exeter Medical School colleagues - has been looking at the physiological responses of humans to beetroot juice supplementation. 

This research has provided new insights into the importance of the nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide pathway to metabolic and vascular control, with implications for the maintenance or enhancement of cardiovascular health, muscle efficiency, and exercise performance across the lifespan.

These exciting discoveries have impacted significantly on sports nutrition practice with beetroot juice now being used routinely to support competitive performance and training both in recreational and élite athletes.

Find out more about our impact.

Virtual Jet Centre

Captain Andy Wilkins, an experienced pilot with over 20 years flying commercially, is working with the University of Exeter to roll out a team management programme based on aviation techniques or aerotraining

The Virtual Jet Centre (VJC) is an aircraft simulator centre based in Chudleigh, Devon.  The centre offers a unique experience of flying a Boeing 737 – 800 aircraft simulator providing the opportunity for professional pilots, and novices, to fly a modern jet and feel what it is like to sit in the pilot's seat. However, the centre offers much more than an opportunity to improve piloting skills or experience a fun day out.

VJC offers an experience of how rigid systems help to reduce human error within high performance working culture. Airlines have found that having systems, and processes, in place that highlight potential errors due to human factors can save lives. Dr Sam Vine, from Sport and Health Sciences at the University, is currently working on a research project entitled ‘Human Factors in Aviation’ sponsored by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).  Sam examines the processes through which anxiety hinders (or helps) performance and is working with the VJC and Flybe to research pilot training techniques. Read more >>

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Quorn: assessing the health benefits of mycoprotein

Animal protein is great for muscle building, but we know a lot less about sustainably produced non-animal derived proteins. Mycoprotein is the fungal protein source used in Quorn. Scientists at the University of Exeter are working with Quorn to understand how good it is for your muscles compared with animal-derived protein sources. The team are comparing mycoprotein with milk protein, and have so far found it has “equivalent” bioavailability. This means important amino acids involved in muscle building become available in the blood after digesting the protein. This could mean mycoprotein has equivalent muscle building properties to milk, supporting muscle growth in both younger and older people.

Read more about this case study.