Featured Content Archive

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Topic in Focus: Sport and Mental Health

Illustration of Brain analysis and DNA connecting line and dot.

The Effect of Sport on the Brain

Sport and physical activity have been shown to positively affect not only cardiovascular health and body composition, but also the complex brain systems implicated in well-being and mental health. Research suggests that physical activity can have a beneficial impact on a diverse range of mental health conditions - including schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease and depression - as well as enhancing general well-being. The hippocampus, a highly networked brain structure, is sensitive to the effects of physical activity. Learn more about the relationship between physical activity and the brain.

Mature father and adult son walking off soccer field after evening game with friends

Anxiety Management in Top Athletes

Anxiety is a frequent underlying cause for athletes failing to perform to their usual standard, particularly in situations of exceptional pressure (for example, a soccer penalty shoot-out or a return to competitive play after injury). Read more about the effects of anxiety on performance, including common coping techniques and examples of top athletes encountering anxiety-related issues.

Female pilates instructor assisting mature student on high-low chair during class in exercise studio.

Physical Activity and Psychosocial Well-being of Older Adults

Leisure and physical activity can make a positive contribution to the well-being, cognitive health and quality of life of older adults. Participating in activities such as social dancing, walking for exercise and swimming can provide opportunities for personal growth and stress reduction, as well as slow cognitive decline. Learn more about ageing-specific theories of psychosocial well-being, or view a demonstration of exercise diagnosis and prescription for older adults.

Topic in Focus: Nutrition

A selection of nutritious foods (Getty)

Nutrition and Fuel Systems for Sport

In Gold Medal Nutrition Glen Cardwell simplifies nutrition and reveals the essential food components that are needed for good physical health. The underlying science behind a balanced diet is explored, with an in-depth look at the benefits of different recommended food groups. Click here to find out more about what foods to eat to improve wellbeing and to get the best out of your body.

Athlete in silhouette walking towards a stadium in Cape Town (Getty Images)

Athletes and Disordered Eating

Competitive sports is a high pressured environment, and strict diet and exercise regimes are crucial to performing well. But at what stage can these habits become unhealthy eating disorders? This chapter from Fundamentals of Sport and Exercise Nutrition examines the distinguishing behaviours of different eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Anorexia Athletica, and explains why such conditions can be so difficult to recognise in pro-athletes.

Youth soccer in small town USA (Wikimedia Commons)

Undernutrition in Childhood and Adolescence

Chronic undernutrition during childhood can have long-term consequences for growth and maturation in adulthood. However undernutrition is a heterogeneous term that can have varying meanings for specialists, and is difficult to quantify. This chapter examines the criteria and prevalence of undernutrition in preschool children, school age children and adolescents, with an in-depth analysis of the long term effects this can have.

Capsule (Pixabay)

Nutritional Supplementation

Nutritional supplements are by no means uncommon in the high pressure world of sport, where athletes often strive to enhance and improve performance. Such aids can complement an athlete’s nutritional plan, however, they have the potential to be harmful when used inappropriately. This chapter from Performance Nutrition: Applying the Science of Nutrient Timing breaks down nutrition supplements into three categories - dietary supplements, sports supplements, and ergogenic aids – and describes common examples with an in depth look at their benefits and recommended usage.

A water drop (Wikimedia Commons)

Hydration Management

Water is second only to oxygen as a necessity for maintaining life. The body can withstand a 40% loss in body mass from starvation, but just a 9% to 12% loss of body mass from fluid loss can be fatal. It is not surprising then that water plays a crucial part in exercise performance. Jay Hoffman outlines the key processes for hydration during exercise and at rest, including water balance, fluid replacement, electrolyte balance and the effect of hypohdration on physiological function.

Topic in Focus: Fitness and Health

An elderly couple go for a walk on a woodland path in the Fall

Fitness and Healthy Aging

Can exercise continue to improve your quality of life in your later years? Just what are the effects of exercise on aging? This chapter from Physical Activity for Health and Fitness explores how the cardiorespiratory endurance and muscular strength of older people are affected by physical activity, and how regular, lifelong physical activity in younger people will affect their health and vitality as they grow older.

Two volleyball players hold hands before a point

The Cultural, Religious, and Spiritual Components of Fitness

Values usually drive our behavior; they reflect what we consider to be most important, such as our health, family, happiness, knowledge, and faith. In Applied Health Fitness Psychology, Mark H. Anshel examines the role of religious and spiritual beliefs in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, the ways in which physical and mental health professionals can apply faith-based content in consulting with patients and clients of faith, and how religious and spiritual beliefs, texts, and programs can provide greater incentive to initiate and maintain healthy levels of fitness.

View of a woman's legs walking up a flight of steps in running attire

Fitness to Combat Diabetes

For people with diabetes, regular participation in fitness activities can help to lose fat weight, gain muscle mass, and improve overall blood glucose. Insulin sensitivity is likely to improve, resulting in a need for lower doses of insulin or other diabetes medications. In this chapter, Sheri R. Colberg outlines key fitness activities, ranging from low-intensity activities such as yoga to power ones like kickboxing, and endurance-based race walking and stationary cycling, with general recommendations for managing blood glucose during and after the fitness activities, separated out by insulin changes for anyone using a pump or injections, dietary changes, or a combination of both.

A female pilates instructor assisting mature student on high-low chair during class in exercise studio

The Exercise Diagnosis and Prescription Model

The term "exercise prescription" is often used, but have we actually considered its meaning and its implications? We can think of a prescription as "a written or verbal order for administering medicine or other treatments based on a diagnosis of the patient's needs". There is a very important concept contained in this definition which is commonly ignored when we use the word in association with fitness: the diagnosis process. In this video, Joseph Signorile outlines the importance of fitness techniques as precise tools that can be used to provide a targeted training intervention, while in this video he puts the concept to practice and looks at the diagnosis and prescription model through the diagnostic sheets of four case studies.

A view of people performing warm up exercises on a gymnasium floor

Physiological Motivation to Improve Health and Fitness

With so many people now either inactive or infrequently active, effective programs to help them start and stick with an active lifestyle are critical. Many of the techniques used to promote physical fitness originated from psychological theories of motivation and behavior change. The stages of motivational readiness for change model evolved from the work of Dr. James Prochaska and Dr. Carlo DiClemente who studied the stages of changing health habits. This chapter from Motivating People to be Physical Active outlines the concepts of motivational readiness and stages of change, and describes the strategies and techniques for behavior change.

Sport in Focus: Basketball

Close up image of friends playing basketball at a gymnasium.

Performance Demands of Basketball

Basketball is a stochastic, intermittent high-intensity sport. It is characterized by periods of high aerobic oxidative and anaerobic glycolytic demands, continuous changes of direction that challenge the neuromuscular system, including accelerations and decelerations, jumps, sprints, physical contact, and sport-specific skills. Learn more about the application of high-intensity training to basketball performance, or view a short clip demonstrating the human movement of shooting in basketball.

Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers guards LeBron James of the Miami Heat during a game at American Airlines Arena on February 10, 2013 in Miami, Florida.

Basketball Legends

LeBron James’ intensity, skill level, and control are legendary. Many researchers have described this high-performance state as ‘flow’: the ability to pursue a goal and become immersed, without conscious awareness of the goal, objective or need to apply skills. Learn more about LeBron James, the concept of ‘flow’ and the harnessing of inner strength.

The story of Michael Jordan’s celebrated rise to greatness is characterized by rigorous practice. One of the most celebrated basketball players of all time, Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team but refused to let this set-back deter him. Jordan’s perseverance and focus on perfecting his technical and tactical skills propelled him to professional excellence. Learn more about expert performance in sport.

Much-missed basketball superstar Kobe Bryant described how the training he underwent as a youth contributed to his later success. Instead of an environment that over-emphasized competitiveness, he benefited from a training culture that prioritised skill development such as ‘fundamentals, footwork, spacing, back cuts’. Learn more about best practices for developing young athletes’ readiness for competing in sport.

Adaptive athletes in wheelchairs playing basketball together in a indoors sports court.

Wheelchair Basketball

Sport is universal. It provides common ground for societies around the world through the compelling performances of many differently-abled participants. Wheelchair basketball is the most played disability sport in the world: it has featured at every Paralympic Games since 1960 and is also commonly played at club and recreational levels. Learn more about designing wheelchair basketball programs and promoting inclusion.

Activity in Focus: Dance Technique

GDC Feelin’ Good (Wikimedia Commons)

History of Jazz Dance

The rich history of jazz dance parallels the social, economic, and political history of the United States from the early 1900s to today. In this chapter you will learn how jazz dance grew from West African roots into a performing art, supported along the way by a fascinating list of artists, dancers, and choreographers. Understanding jazz dance history helps you realize the connections between the varied expressions that jazz dance takes, as well as the vital connections that exist between the figures, personalities, and every jazz dance student.

Lighting effects (Beginning Musical Theatre Dance)

Musical Theatre Choreography

Beginning Musical Theatre Dance introduces students to basic musical theatre dance techniques from a variety of genres, forms, and styles and explains how to put them into practice for performance on stage. Accompanying instructional video clips help students practice and review musical theatre dance forms, techniques and adaptations. Click here to watch a video clip of precision style choreography in the style of musical theatre.

Preparing for Class (Beginning Tap Dance)

Safety in the Classroom

As with any physical activity, dance related injuries sometimes occur. Understanding safety precautions along with basic movement, nutrition, and anatomy can help you prevent many of those injuries. This chapter from Beginning Tap Dance examines studio safety, including creating the best environment to minimize joint and muscle stress and keeping the studio free of injury-causing obstacles. Basic anatomy, proper alignment, nutrition and hydration are also addressed to further assist understanding of injury prevention.

Ballet Swan Lake (Pixabay)

Ballet Steps

Beginning Ballet introduces students to the study of ballet as a performing art and provides instructional support in learning foundational ballet technique. The book features an audio glossary which explains key terms such as échappé sauté and rond de jambe à terre, as well as images demonstrating basic positions, barre exercises, and centre combinations. Whether you are learning an arabesque a terre or a coupe devant, this collection will provide clear instruction to help guide your dance practice.

Spotlight Lighting (Pixabay)

Staging a Performance

A dance exists only in the mind of the choreographer and as a rehearsal exercise until it is performed. However, bringing a dance performance to fruition requires long-range planning and a number of intermediary steps. Planning a dance performance can be a daunting task, but it is possible to minimize the challenge by arranging the production process into a series of smaller, more digestible tasks. From rehearsals and lighting, to props and sets, this chapter is your guide to staging informal concerts and lecture-demonstrations.

All images on Featured Content and Home pages courtesy of Getty Images.