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Environmental Physiology

Environmental physiology research at RISE examines the mechanisms that mediate health and performance in adverse environments: primarily heat and altitude.

The scope of current and proposed projects spans from applied field work to mechanistic studies in the laboratory. From a performance perspective, projects are undertaken to determine the influence of environmental parameters (heat, humidity, air movement and solar radiation) on thermoregulatory and cardiovascular function during self-paced exercise, evaluate how athletic training mediates gastrointestinal health under heat stress, and how the availability of feedback influences performance at altitude.

Athletics Australia athlete in heat chamber

These projects and others related to heat acclimation have the wider aim of determining how elite athletes should prepare for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics and beyond. The environmental physiology research group at RISE also collaborates with industry partners like the Australian Institute of Sport, ACT Academy of Sport, and Brumbies.

A series of novel health-related projects are also being developed in which heat therapy, the repeated exposure to heat stress, will be utilised to improve neuromuscular function and balance in sarcopenic individuals, as well as enhance cerebrovascular and cortical function in those with chronic diseases.

These projects emphasise the diversity of multi-disciplinary work undertaken by the research group. Currently funded projects include: repeated sprinting in the heat as an innovative acclimation method for optimising performance in team-sport athletes (funded by the Australian Institute of Sport), and developing an evidence-based extreme heat policy for child and youth Sport (funded by NHMRC in collaboration with the University of Sydney).