Holsworth Research Initiative

Our research focusses on exercise, physical activity and rehabilitation.

Research News

The view from the bike – a participant’s experience

The Holsworth Research Initiative has joined with Bendigo Health to research the impact of recreational cycling on the heart’s electrical activity. This research started when the head of Bendigo Health Cardiology noticed a worrying trend among Bendigo’s ‘weekend warrior’ road cyclists – they were presenting at the hospital with heart arrythmias. One of our researchers, Dr Dan Wundersitz, is recruiting volunteers for this study to find out more about the impact of endurance cycling on the heart. Although the COVID-19 lockdown has put a temporary brake on our testing we are still recruiting – so if you are interested please contact Dan.

A Participant’s View

We were delighted when one of our participants posted about her experience of our study in her own cycling blog. Tiff is an academic and endurance bike rider, so she writes with a deep knowledge of both sides of data collection – and she’s frank, fearless and funny! With Tiff’s blessing we are re-publishing a short excerpt from her post which vividly captures her experience. For the full flavour, I urge you to read the full post.

As Tiff says:

The chance to get data, actual solid factual data, on my fitness, my heart, and my body composition seemed like a fantastic opportunity. Academic research to support or discount my own biases in terms of my training? Yes please! …

A little while later and it was time to drive up to Bendigo for my first set of tests…

Needless to say any mention of doing a ‘test’ kicks in the anxiety…. For anyone who’s tried to get their blood pressure taken and resting heart rate measured while having an anxiety flare, you’ll feel my pain. For those that haven’t, it’s like doing a sprint and then having someone ask you to calm down. Eventually I managed to focus long enough that I would will my heart to slow down, and we got a heart rate and blood pressure reading that wasn’t ridiculous….

It didn’t help that I couldn’t get the first face mask on and was literally gagging trying to breathe. Putting a tube in my mouth and a nose plug over my nostrils to cut off the air resulted in a near panic attack, and I’m sure there were little tears running down my face as I tried to be brave. But I just couldn’t do it. Luckily they had a back-up option of a face mask set up, and with a bit of finagling we got it sorted.

Simultaneously I was also doing a lactate test, which involved being pricked in the finger to draw blood to measure the lactate accumulation in my blood as I ramped up the test. Living my best life right here folks.

For anyone that’s ever done a functional threshold power (FTP) test at home…, it’s the same thing, except you’re concurrently trying to breath into a plastic face mask and not vomit or pass out while having someone stab you in the finger trying to draw blood. At the same time they were calling out all the numbers (8 minutes in! Power 180, VO2 at 28.7, heart rate 141) which of course made me even MORE aware of what I was doing. Daniel was casually chatting with Matt (who was taking my bloods and is a triathlete) about numbers, and Matt mentioned his VO2 max was 49 point something.

Me: Must… get…. to 49…. (stupid competitive genes).

I had no idea what 49 meant by the way. But it seemed a long ways away, given I was only at 28.7 at that time.

Needless to say I eventually completed the test. It’s a fun one, everything seems pretty okay until it is SO NOT OKAY and then it’s a battle between everything screaming at you to stop before you puke and yet desperately trying to keep going because 49.

And then it’s over… Sweet sweet relief. A 5-10 minute cool down at low watts and I was fine again.

Want to learn more?

Read all about it  in Tiffany’s own words: Will lab rat for data

Although testing is currently on hold owing to the COVID-19 lockdown we are still recruiting volunteers – if you ride for an hour or more a week and are interested in riding in Tiffany’s wake, please get in touch.

A media update

We received some wonderful publicity from this blog post. Daniel had interviews with ABC and Channel Nine Regional, as well as local Bendigo radio, Phoenix FM. As a result we received over 300 inquiries from potential participants – all thanks to Tiffany’s inspiring prose! Below are the links to the interviews, if you would like to learn more about the study.

Tanya Jones interviews Daniel Wundersitz – Sportsvox, Phoenix FM Bendigo