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Sports science and physiology

An introduction to the area of sports science and physiology
NIALL MACFARLANE: Hi, my name’s Niall MacFarlane. I am Dr. Niall MacFarlane if I want to use my Sunday name. I’ve got a PhD in cell biology. I did an undergraduate degree that was jointly biochemistry and pharmacology. I now, head up the physiology and sports science degree at Glasgow University. Physiology and Sport’s a real life science, a real human biology degree. We want to understand how the cell signalling processes, how the inflammatory responses or how the endocrine responses to physical activity change the body. I think we are starting to realise that exercise in itself is important to the body. And we all understand if we don’t take regular physical activity, it increases how heavy we are.
We can have problems with obesity, with diabetes. And that can lead to cancer and heart disease. But actually, in the past few years, there’s a greater understanding that doing physical activity, once you have disease, makes you recover from that disease, or have to use less drugs in the treatment of that disease. And so we can think of exercise as being a magic bullet. And understanding why that happens is probably the big thing that people are interested in, in the next few years. For my PhD, I was really interested in how muscle– whether that’s cardiac muscle or respiratory muscle, or locomotor muscle– how it changes under stressful situations. So initially I was interested in why disease made people worse.
But that quite quickly led to understanding why people may actually improve their muscular performance or their heart’s performance. And as a sports scientist, I get to play with lots of nice techniques that let me look and understand how muscle changes.

We’ll now move on to two increasingly popular subject areas – sports science and physiology. At some universities you can also study nutrition in the same group of subjects.

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