Posts in Health & Fitness

If you or someone you know gets an eye injury, the Save Sight Institute would like to know

Posted on January 28th, 2011 in Health & Fitness, Top stories.

The Save Sight Institute at the University of Sydney is currently undertaking a major study into surfing related eye injuries.

The Save Sight InstituteWhilst relatively uncommon, eye injuries sustained in the surf can have devastating, life long effects. After many years of treating such injuries, two Sydney doctors, Dr Raf Ghabrial and Dr Mark Gillett are seeking to quantify
just how many surfing eye injuries occur in a twelve month period in NSW. By collecting data such as the type of injury sustained, the surf conditions on that particular day and the experience of the surfer involved, the study seeks to identify factors linked to eye injuries. Identifying these factors may then help to initiate strategies to reduce the rate of surfing eye injuries.

For the information gathered to be useful it is important that the researchers record all of the injuries sustained in NSW in the next twelve months. If you or one of your friends has experienced an eye injury, the research team would love to hear from you. Please email them at Participating in the study will involve a short survey involving the type of questions such as those listed above, taking about ten minutes of your time.

An interesting article discussing this research being carried out by the Save Sight Institute team, as well as how surfboard design and overcrowded surf spots continue to contribute to eye injuries can be found at

Further information on the study can be obtained by contacting the study co-coordinator Dr. Juliette Howden at the Save Sight Institute on

Mitch Crews dealing with AS – and still surfing

Posted on December 22nd, 2010 in Health & Fitness.

(Press release)

Australia’s number one junior surfer shares his pain

Few would describe chronic spinal pain as a “blessing in disguise,” but these are the words Mitch Crews uses to describe his ankylosing spondylitis (AS).
The 20-year-old professional surfer was diagnosed with AS in November 2009 after having experienced “continuous and annoying pain” in his lower back, wrists and ankles.
“I had symptoms for a good month-and-a-half until I actually considered it might be something serious,” explains Crews.
“I didn’t have symptoms other than swelling and pain in the joints, but I did feel exhausted and lacking in energy. I also had a lot of trouble sleeping from the discomfort,” he recounts.
“I was very upset when the doctor told me it was AS and that it was serious, as I thought I wasn’t going to be able to surf anymore and surfing is my whole life.”
Mitch describes his AS as: “throbbing, deep pain,” and explains that during a flare-up; “it constantly hurts and every time I move, it gets worse.”
The initial shock of his diagnosis has been overshadowed by an overwhelming determination to pursue his dreams despite living with AS- the young gun is currently Australia’s number one ranked junior surfer.
As many people living with AS find, Mitch says living an active lifestyle is crucial to beating his AS pain.
“Being active keeps you feeling mobile, which is why I find surfing so great. I also practice yoga to keep me flexible and loosen the joints,” he says.
So, why the blessing in disguise?
“I really look after my health and fitness a lot more than I used to,” Mitch enthuses, “and I am fitter and stronger than I ever have been in the past!”
Mitch is an inspiration to people living with AS, not only for his dedication to keep surfing against the odds, but also because of his upbeat attitude.
“AS is something I, and many others have to deal with. You can live a normal and happy life if you just change a few things around: I am a clear example of that. You just need to be flexible and positive to make it easier on yourself and your AS,” he explains.
Mitch also considers himself lucky in that his friends and family have played a “huge part” in fighting his AS.
“I have regular check-ups just to see how I’m going,” he says, “and anyone else experiencing chronic spinal pain or who thinks they may have AS should definitely get themselves looked at by a GP immediately. Doing nothing about it will not help the situation.”
According to Dr Louis McGuigan, president of the Australian Rheumatology Association, like Mitch, many Aussie men could have much more than a ‘bad back’ and without proper diagnosis could have serious consequences.
“Mitch was smart in seeking help early so he can now control his condition rather than it controlling him. But you don’t have to be a professional sportsman to take action. It is imperative anyone with persistent back pain sees a GP and asks if they need a referral to a rheumatologist,” said Dr McGuigan.

About Mitch Crews’ condition – ankylosing spondylitis (AS):
AS is three times more common in men than women. It causes inflammation and pain in the spine and other joints including the shoulders, hips, knees, ankles, chest and back. If left untreated, AS can lead to permanent stiffening of the spine and in severe cases, the bones in the spine can fuse together, stopping movement and causing a permanently forward-stooping posture. It is estimated that as many as 200,000 Australians have been diagnosed with the condition.
Dr Louis McGuigan’s advice to men living with spinal pain:
“If you are experiencing back pain, look out for particular hot spots where the pain is coming from – such as the shoulders, the base of the spine or the middle of your back (the lumbar vertebrae). Being able to detect where the pain is coming from will help your doctor determine a diagnosis.
“The best way to manage back pain, alongside treatment, is through regular physical activity. Being active tends to help keep the pain under control. It is important that you discuss with your doctor what types of exercises are best for you to start as soon as possible,” added Dr McGuigan.
Issued by Cube on behalf of Arthritis Australia.

Abbott Australasia proudly supported Arthritis Australia to conduct this awareness campaign with an untied educational grant.

Interviews available with: Mitch Crews and Dr Louis McGuigan, president of the Australian Rheumatology Association.

For further information contact:
Prudence Buxton on 02 9578 2053 / 0423 314 648 /
Kylie Whetton on 02 9578 2052 / 0413 061 122 /

Sydney swamped: sewage alert to surfers

Posted on June 4th, 2010 in Environment, Health & Fitness, News Flash, Top stories.

Authorities are warning swimmers and surfers to stay away from Sydney's beaches due to high pollution levels caused by heavy rain, warns an article on the SMH site. It continues:

The rain over the past week has also forced some sewage plants into a partial bypass system, whereby some sewage is running into the ocean untreated.

A NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water spokeswoman said that authorities were recommending swimmers to avoid beaches over the next few days.

“[The] Beachwatch Program has recorded elevated levels of enterococci, a bacteria used to indicate the presence of sewage contamination, at many of Sydney’s ocean and harbour beaches following the heavy rainfall in recent weeks,” she said.

“The elevated enterococci levels are the result of stormwater discharges, sewage overflows and bypasses from coastal sewage treatment plants due to heavy rains.”

Having previously given a list of safe beaches at which to swim, the spokeswoman has updated her advice to say that no beaches were now considered safe.

With more heavy rain expected to fall across Sydney over the weekend, beach conditions are not expected to improve.

via Sydney swamped: sewage alert to surfers.

10-minute workouts all you need?

Posted on March 13th, 2010 in Health & Fitness, News Stories, Top stories.

A fascinating study out of McMaster University in Canada seems to demonstrate that 10-minutes of interval training, three times a week, can be an effective way to maintain fitness. Just the thing for the time-starved amongst us who aren’t getting to the beach as often as we should…

High-intensity interval training is time-efficient and effective, study suggests

“We have shown that interval training does not have to be all out in order to be effective,” says Professor Martin Gibala. “Doing 10 one-minute sprints on a standard stationary bike with about one minute of rest in between, three times a week, works as well in improving muscle as many hours of conventional long-term biking less strenuously.”

This less extreme HIT method may work well for people (the older, less fit, and slightly overweight among us) whose doctors might have worries about them exercising “all-out.” We have known for years that repeated moderate long-term exercise tunes up fuel and oxygen delivery to muscles and aids the removal of waste products. Exercise also improves the way muscles use the oxygen to burn the fuel in mitochondria, the microscopic power station of cells.

Running or cycling for hours a week widens the network of vessels supplying muscle cells and also boosts the numbers of mitochondria in them so that a person can carry out activities of daily living more effectively and without strain, and crucially with less risk of a heart attack, stroke or diabetes.

But the traditional approach to exercise is time consuming. Martin Gibala and his team have shown that the same results can be obtained in far less time with brief spurts of higher-intensity exercise.

via Science Daily News – High-intensity interval training is time-efficient and effective, study suggests.

Original article here: A practical model of low-volume high-intensity interval training induces mitochondrial biogenesis in human skeletal muscle: potential mechanisms — J Physiol

The Canadian Press: T.too much sitting could be deadly – even for people who exercise

Posted on January 21st, 2010 in Health & Fitness, News Stories.

I thought this was interesting. Might have to build myself a standup desk…

LONDON — Here's a new warning from health experts: Sitting is deadly.

Scientists are increasingly warning that sitting for prolonged periods – even if you also exercise regularly – could be bad for your health. And it doesn't matter where the sitting takes place – at the office, at school, in the car or before a computer or TV – just the overall number of hours it occurs.

Research is preliminary, but several studies suggest people who spend most of their days sitting are more likely to be fat, have a heart attack or even die.

In an editorial published this week in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, Elin Ekblom-Bak of the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences suggested that authorities rethink how they define physical activity to highlight the dangers of sitting.

While health officials have issued guidelines recommending minimum amounts of physical activity, they haven't suggested people try to limit how much time they spend in a seated position.

“After four hours of sitting, the body starts to send harmful signals,” Ekblom-Bak said. She explained that genes regulating the amount of glucose and fat in the body start to shut down.

Even for people who exercise, spending long stretches of time sitting at a desk is still harmful. Tim Armstrong, a physical activity expert at the World Health Organization, said people who exercise every day – but still spend a lot of time sitting – might get more benefit if that exercise were spread across the day, rather than in a single bout.

Read entire article here The Canadian Press: Experts warn that too much sitting could be deadly – even for people who exercise.


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