RESOURCE. Do you need advice on how to measure physical activity in your study? Need help taking and analyzing the right measurements? Or a place to conduct the study? If so, the Center for Health and Performance Development, CHP can help. The Center will function as a resource for researchers and lecturers at Sahlgrenska Academy on everything to do with health and exercise.
The Center for Health and Performance Development, CHP, at the Department of Food and Nutrition, and Sport Science, as the newly-created center is a benefit for all of the University of Gothenburg. CHP is growing at a rapid pace. The Center was begun in 2011 and in 2013, with chief professor Stefan Grau at the help, there were five people who worked here. There are now around 25 researchers, PhD students and lecturers associated here.
A complete environment
CHP’s vision is to be an international research center in health and sports performance development, and to create a close multi-disciplinary scientific collaboration between academia, trade and industry, sport and healthcare.
“We want to make this into a complete academic environment and be the natural place in Gothenburg for research and dissemination of knowledge on physical activity, as well as equally the place for public health as much as elite sports,” says Mats Börjesson.
He is a cardiologist and professor in sports physiology at Sahlgrenska Academy, and works together with Stefan Grau as a CHP representative since 2015.
“We will be a center of knowledge and function as an asset for everyone who works in this field. Researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy can, for example, help to initiate a training study, carry out the study itself here or begin research collaboration with us,” says Mats Börjesson.
A well-equipped center
CHP also has offices for researchers and PhD students, as well as training facilities, including a full-scale handball hall, and three laboratories. One biomechanical lab for movement analysis, one strength lab, and a lab for physiological work tests. There is also a DEXA unit for measuring body composition. CHP also has competence in nutrition and collaboration opportunities on the combination of diet and physical activity for health and performance.
“We are also running test activities here for elite athletes,” explains Mats Börjesson.
Study in the field of elite sports includes biomechanics and the risk of injuries. There is also study into how materials and clothing can be designed to increase sporting performance. This could be everything from shoe development to how to easily measure physical activity and sitting still, and the effects of sports drinks on sugar levels and performance.
“This is an exciting field and we will be working even more closely with trade and industry in the future, thanks to the major ITH project.
ITH stands for Innovations arena for sport, technology and health, and is a three-year project financed by the European Regional Development Fund. CHP, along with Chalmers, will create an environment for collaboration here where small and medium-size companies in the region can access research resources in order to validate, develop and refine products for commercial initiatives.
Healthcare and public health
But perhaps just as importantly as the research in elite sports, there are also studies linked with healthcare and public health. CHP is involved in several large epidemiological studies, among others. Together with the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences (GIH) in Stockholm, CHP is responsible for measuring physical activity in the major SCAPIS study, led by Sahlgrenska Academy. This is a large research project on the heart, blood vessels and lungs, with 30,000 middle-aged people being studied to find risk markers to show who is at risk of heart or lung disease.
“At CHP we have also carried out studies on which effects training has on migraine patients and how rehabilitation works for patients who have had cruciate ligament operations, by – and in collaboration with – other research groups. In future we want to become even better with intervention studies,” says Mats Börjesson.
Training is another key function for CHP. We currently offer an international Master’s course in sports medicine in health and performance, which has attracted students from throughout Europe. The course includes physical activity across a wide range from sick patients where physical activity may be part of their treatment, physical activity on prescription, to the young elite athlete with heart problems or traumatic injuries.
CHP also wants to educate people and spread knowledge on health and physical activity to the general public.
“Health issues are always on the agenda, and it’s not always the case that the answers given in the media which are correct. We will happily answer queries on health and activity, or put journalists in touch with the right experts. It’s important that evidence-based knowledge reaches the public,” says Mats Börjesson.
TEXT AND PHOTO: KARIN FREJRUD/FREELANCE JOURNALIST