Stories tagged athletics

Sep
09
2008

Future Olympian: The 2012 games promise to be touching, tedious.
Future Olympian: The 2012 games promise to be touching, tedious.Courtesy from a second story.
Providing much needed—though little deserved—encouragement to sweaty crybabies around the world, a recent study has determined that crying and sweating seems to reduce exercise-induced asthma (EIA) in athletes. That is to say, athletes who have lower fluid excretion rates (sweat, saliva and tears) more often suffer from EIA than athletes who, you know, cry, sweat and drool a lot.

This research corresponds strongly with my own findings: I am, by all accounts, a champion sweater and drooler, and a world-class crybaby, and I have never once suffered from exercise-induced asthma. I also avoid exercise at all costs, however.

It’s thought that the mechanism that governs sweat production could be linked to the mechanism that keeps airways from drying out. So athletes who sweat (and drool and cry) less may also have drier airways, which can become irritated and constrict.

The researchers also found that people with higher sodium excretion rates (saltier sweat?) were less likely to suffer from EIA, although no cause-effect relationship was established in the study.

The findings might one day lead to better treatments for EIA, but in the meantime professionals are urging the public to restrict their exercise to eating and complaining.

May
16
2008

Blades of glory: Disabled South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius is challenging rules that prevent him from competing in the Beijing Olympics. He's the current world record holder in the Para Olympics 400 meters.
Blades of glory: Disabled South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius is challenging rules that prevent him from competing in the Beijing Olympics. He's the current world record holder in the Para Olympics 400 meters.Courtesy Twisted Physics
Can a disability turn into an advantage on the running track?

That’s the question that double-amputee South African sprinter is forcing Olympic officials to deal with this spring. Oscar Pistorius, in his latest round of legal challenges, has won a ruling that he can compete for a spot in the Beijing Olympics taking place this summer.

Pistorius is nicknamed “Blade runner” because during competitions he uses to springy prosthesises on the bottom of his legs that look like big blades.

He wants to compete in the 400 meters and has a career best time in that race of 46.56 seconds. But that’s a bit off of the Olympic qualifying time of 45.55. With this new ruling, even if he doesn’t hit that qualifying standard, South African track officials could have him run segment of relay races. The 400 meters is a sprint that encompasses one lap of the standard running track.

Is this fair?

Those in the established track community contend that the “blades” give Pistorius a mechanical advantage over regular-limbed runners. Yet, his career best 400-meter time of 46.56 is also the Para Olympics world record for that distance. The able-bodied world record for the 400 meters is 43.18 seconds held by the U.S.’s Michael Johnson.

What do you think, does Pistorius have a mechanical edge with his blade feet? Should he be allowed to compete at the Olympic level if he can post a qualifying time? Share your thoughts here with other Science Buzz readers.

Nov
26
2007

Kicking away the blues?: Researchers in Canada have found that kids who have a high opinion of their athletic abilities tend to be more satisfied with their friendships. Why might that be?
Kicking away the blues?: Researchers in Canada have found that kids who have a high opinion of their athletic abilities tend to be more satisfied with their friendships. Why might that be?Courtesy afsilva
It’s no secret that the top athletes are BMOC – Big Man on Campus – in many of people’s eyes. But a new study completed recently in Canada looks at the relationship between athletic abilities and personal self-image. And researchers think there is a similar connection.

The study has found there is a correlation between a kid’s perception of his/her athletic abilities and the satisfaction they find in the number and quality of friends that they have. The better they perceive themselves athletically, the happier they are in their social life. Conversely, kids who felt they had lower athletic ability tended to say that they were lonelier in school.

The study was done through questionnaires given to 208 students in grades four to six at Canadian schools. The kids had to measure both their personal loneliness factor at school along with their athletic abilities. Also, students had to assess the athletic abilities of the students they like best and like least.

The students who rated higher for loneliness more commonly also rated low on athletic abilities, both by themselves and by their peers. And that leads the researchers to ask some new questions, that weren’t included in the survey.

Are kids with poor athletic skills less popular because they have fewer chances to make friends through being part of sports teams? Or are their athletic skills not as developed because they their lack of friendships with others have kept them from being a part of teams?

I’m not sure how I fall on this issue, but it does bring back to light the strong contention a former high school athletic director friend of mine would always talk about: that students involved in extra-curricular activities tended to have better grades.

What do you think of all of this? Share your thoughts here with a comment or two for other Science Buzz readers.

Sep
28
2007

Action analysis: The new TV show Sport Science breaks down the action on the fields and courts into the scientific principles at play. It also monitors the athletes' bodies to see what they're doing inside to do all those amazing things on the outside. The Fox Sport Net show will air at various times in various regions beginning Sunday, Sept. 30.
Action analysis: The new TV show Sport Science breaks down the action on the fields and courts into the scientific principles at play. It also monitors the athletes' bodies to see what they're doing inside to do all those amazing things on the outside. The Fox Sport Net show will air at various times in various regions beginning Sunday, Sept. 30.
We’ve had more than our share of interesting blog entries here about the intersection of science and sports. Fox Sports Net must have been reading some of them, because this weekend it launches a 13-week series of shows called “Sport Science.” They’ll appear at varying dates and times on the regional carriers of the sports network.

It’s part science, part reality TV and part gym rat habitat. For the show, producers used an airport hangar in southern California as a lab to test the science behind the various amazing feats that happen in various sports.

The action of a 50-yard touchdown pass, a three-point basket shot up under time pressure and a hockey wrist shot, among many other things, were all filmed to be broken down scientifically and explained.

Along with the physics at play in a particular sports activity, athletes performing the actions have their bodies hooked up to monitors to gauge the biological actions taking place inside their body as they exert themselves.

I’ve been trying to click around the net to see when the show will appear in the Twin Cities, and have had no luck. I guess you’ll need to keep your eyes open for promos. Producers of the show also say that they anticipate having episodes of the show ready for DVD distribution somewhere down the line.