Holsworth Research Initiative

Our research focusses on exercise, physical activity and rehabilitation.

Where are they now? Blog series

The HRI Director and Stream Leaders have had the privilege of supervising a number of higher degree by research students since the Holsworth Research Initiative began in 2019. These students now work across a broad range of industries including academia, applied sports science and clinical practice.

In this new series, we will update our subscribers on where our past HDR students are now and how their research degree with the La Trobe Health School and the Holsworth Research Initiative helped shape their career.

Part 6: Dr Paul Xanthos, Teaching-Focused Lecturer, Sport and Exercise Science, La Trobe University

Part Six of our Where Are They Now blog series features Dr Paul Xanthos, a previous PhD student of the HRI and a current Teaching-Focused Lecturer in the discipline of Sport and Exercise Science at La Trobe University.

Dr Paul Xanthos completed his PhD in 2019 under the supervision of HRI Director Professor Michael Kingsley and Active Rural Individuals Stream Leader Associate Professor Brett Gordon. During his PhD studies, Dr Xanthos developed a relationship with cardiology department staff members at Bendigo Health including the Director of Cardiology, Dr Voltaire Nadurata. It was through this relationship with Bendigo Health and the cardiac rehabilitation team that Dr Xanthos was able to recruit participants for his intervention studies.

Cardiac rehabilitation in regional Australia

Dr Xanthos and his supervisory team investigated the functional outcomes from exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation in regional Australia. The submitted thesis consisted of a series of four studies with two published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

A comparison of age-standardised event rates for acute and chronic coronary heart disease in metropolitan and regional/remote Victoria. A retrospective cohort study.

The effectiveness of an Australian cardiac rehabilitation program following current national guidelines

Implementing resistance training in the rehabilitation of coronary heart disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Are changes in physical and cardiovascular function effected by shorter-duration cardiac rehabilitation that includes resistance training?

Dr Xanthos’s PhD consisted of a systematic review and meta-analysis, two cohort studies and a randomised control trial. The main findings from these studies were;

# Increasing chronic coronary heart disease event rates in Victoria and higher acute and chronic CHD event rates in regional/remote areas when compared to metropolitan areas, highlight the need to enhance secondary prevention measures, particularly in regional locations.

# The lack of systematic progression in exercise volume undertaken throughout standard-care cardiac rehabilitation suggests that standard-care cardiac rehabilitation might not elicit sufficient physiological adaptation in some patients to change physical function or arterial stiffness.

# Modifying standard-care cardiac rehabilitation to include purposefully prescribed resistance training can improve physical function.

# In practice, cardiovascular function did not appear to further improve after a shorter-duration combined purposefully prescribed resistance training and aerobic training CR program when compared to a longer aerobic-based CR program.

# Purposeful exercise prescription appears required to maximise improvements in physical and cardiovascular function after cardiac rehabilitation.

A focus on teaching craft

Dr Xanthos currently works for our very own La Trobe University and is based on the Bundoora campus where he teaches undergraduate sport and exercise science students. He is also currently completing a Graduate Certificate in Higher Education which he is expecting to complete by the end of 2022. Although the scope to apply his research findings has been limited, Dr Xanthos reports incorporating his research experience into teaching, particularly regarding exercise testing. When asked about his career aspirations, Dr Xanthos expressed his enjoyment of his current role and the desire to further develop his teaching craft to help develop high-quality sport and exercise science graduates. The temptation of academia remains though, with Dr Xanthos reporting a longer-term goal of a research-related career where he can focus on using exercise to improve both health and athletic performance outcomes.

Up next week is Part seven of our 8-part blog series. We will be following up with Dr Samantha May, a Sport and Exercise Medicine Registrar with Alphington Sports Medicine Clinic and Club Doctor for the Melbourne Vixens Netball Team.

Missed our previous posts in this series? Read them at the HRI blog using the links below and while you’re there, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter so you can stay informed of all the latest HRI news.

Bendigo local GP Dr Stephen Bovalino

Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at Mid-Sweden University Dr Craig Staunton

Allied Health Education & Research Manager at Goulburn Valley Health, Dr Emma Macdonald

Allied Health Research and Knowledge Translation Lead, Bendigo Health, Dr Stephen Barrett

High Performance Manager at Old Scotch Football Club, Dr Jodie Palmer