Exercising in the cold, dark and wet

By Simon PennEvery morning when I drive my daughter to nursery, I pass multiple cyclists commuting to work in the cold, dark and sometimes wet conditions.  I emphasise to my daughter how motivated these cyclists are and that they should be commended for their dedication to maintaining their exercise routine as the winter draws in.  I say this because I, like many, am a fair-weather trainer who loves exercising outside in the summer but struggle to exercise in the winter.Research shows that environmental variables (e.g. temperature, length of day and precipitation) can all affect our ability to maintain our levels of physical activity (Welch et al., 2018; Wagner et al., 2014).  To stay healthy, we should be completing 150 minutes of moderate, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise and some strength training a week (Department of Health, 2011).  In the winter, reduced daylight and lower temperatures both cause a reduction in an individual’s total minutes of physical activity carried out per day (Welch et al., 2018).  So, how can we overcome the winter blues and increase our motivation to exercise?

Understanding psychology can help to boost our motivation.  We need to identify the barriers that prevent us from exercising in order to establish effective compensatory techniques to overcome the barriers.  Additionally, setting appropriate goals can increase our effort and perseverance to an exercise routine because they provide purpose and direction to training (Wilson and Brookfield, 2009).

Removing Barriers

When we wake up in the morning with the aim to exercise, it may then be too dark, cold or wet to get us moving.  So, what can we do?  If you do not like the cold or the rain, treat yourself to some warmer/waterproof clothing or look at the weather forecast and plan your day so that you can exercise when it is not raining or during the warmest part of the day.  If you do not like the dark or exercising alone, exercise at lunch in built up areas or find a buddy to train with so that you will have company and an additional reason for completing the session (so not to let your friend down). Local running clubs are a great way for runners of all levels to help increase their commitment to exercise. Lastly, one of the most important things when planning exercise is to choose something that you like and enjoy.  If you don’t like running, then don’t plan to run because you will spend more time debating whether to run or not.  Work out how to do your exercise of choice.  If you like cycling or rowing, can you purchase a second-hand indoor bike/rower to replicate your training inside?  Once you have removed your barriers to exercise, you can then determine why you are going to train.

Setting Goals

One of the most useful motivational strategies is that of goal setting and when applied effectively it can provide direction to your training.  For optimal goal setting, the goal should be applicable to your training.  For example, aiming to complete a future event (e.g. run, cycle, triathlon) will provide purpose to your training and establish a timescale to complete the training by.  To increase your motivation, goals should be difficult, yet achievable (Weinberg and Gould, 2015).  Therefore, when deciding on your long-term goal, make sure that it is challenging and that you can measure your success (e.g. completing the event or not).  To improve the chance of succeeding in your long-term goal, break the goal into short and medium-term goals.  For example, if increasing the distance in an event (e.g. 5 km to 10 km), your long-term goal may be to complete 10 km within 12 weeks.  Appropriate short and medium-term goals would be to complete 7 km within 4 weeks and 9 km by 8 weeks.  Additionally, you can set process goals (things that will help you achieve your long-term goal) such as weekly targets (e.g. complete a minimum of three 60-minute sessions) which can provide daily motivation.  Setting the right goals and using them effectively will help you to beat winter.

Beating winter?

I have already begun to beat winter.  I removed my barriers (the cold and mornings) by purchasing cycle overshoes and exercising at the warmest part of the day.  Then I set my goals:

  • Long-term: Bath duathlon (16 March 2019)
  • Short term: Run 5 km in 22 minutes by Christmas
  • Medium term: Run 5 km in 21 minutes by February
  • Process goals: 2 cycles and 2 runs a week

Can you beat winter too, and become as motivated as the dedicated cyclists commuting to work that my daughter and I applaud?  Understanding your barriers, setting appropriate goals and planning exercise that you enjoy will help you keep fit and healthy over the winter.  Good luck.

References

Department of Health (2011) ‘Start Active, Stay Active: A report on physical activity for health from the four home countries’ Chief Medical Officers’, London, The Department of Health.

Wagner, A. L., Keusch, F., Yan, T. and Clarke, P. J., 2016. The impact of weather on summer and winter exercise behaviors. Journal of Sport and Health Science. doi: 10.1016/j.jshs.2016.07.007

Weinberg, R. S. and Gould, D. (2014) ‘Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology’, 6th edn, Champaign, Illinois, Human Kinetics.

Welch, W. A., Spring, B., Phillips, S. M. and Siddique, J. (2018) ‘Moderating effects of weather-related factors on a physical activity intervention’, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, vol. 54, no. 5, pp. e83-e89.

Wilson, K. and Brookfield, D. (2009) ‘Effect of goal setting on motivation and adherence in a six-week exercise program’, International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 89–100.

 

Join Our Team: Lecturer in Sport, Exercise and Coaching

Salary: £40,792 – £48,677
Location: Milton Keynes
Reference: 15260
Closing date: 27 November 2018 (5pm)

 

We are seeking an enthusiastic Lecturer to join our vibrant team of nine academic staff involved in writing online/print materials, overseeing online teaching and engaging in research that connects with our growing BSc (Hons) in Sport, Fitness and Coaching (around 2,700 students). You will be able to teach a range of sport and exercise related topics and work collaboratively with colleagues to develop high impact text, video and audio resources for students and wider public engagement.

You will join a team which has created an innovative Sport, Exercise and Coaching curriculum. We would welcome applications from specialists in a particular field of sport and exercise, but you will be expected to write some teaching materials outside your subject area. You will contribute to our existing curriculum and potential new curriculum (e.g. new modules and qualifications).

You must have a higher degree in Sport and Exercise Science or a related field, some published research, and a detailed knowledge of teaching this in sport, exercise or coaching. You will have an understanding of distance learning; an ability to write clearly for a diverse student audience and have proven experience of teaching in higher education.

Job Related information (including person specification)

Information about Sport and Fitness qualifications at The Open University

Information about the Sport and Fitness team at The Open University

Click here for more information and to apply

 

Student Induction 2018/19: Student Hub Live

On 25th September 2018 the School of Education, Childhood, Youth and Sport held an online induction event for Open University students in Student Hub Live. If you missed any of the sessions you can catch up with them below.

The School of Education, Childhood, Youth and Sport

In this opening video associate heads of school Eric Addae-Kyeremeh, Liz McCrystal and Tyrrell Golding welcome you to the induction event.

Beyond Trivial: What Does Studying Sport Reveal?

In this session OU sport and fitness academics Ben Oakley, Jessica Pinchbeck and Alex Twitchen explore why sport and fitness is worth studying.

Study like a World Class Athlete

In this session OU sport and fitness academics Ben Langdown, Simon Penn and Simon Rea look at how you can  apply the strategies of top athletes to your studies.

Other Sessions

In addition to the sessions above led by members of the OU sport and fitness team there were several other sessions run by colleagues which are relevant to sport and fitness students. These can be viewed below.

Using the OU Library

Tutors and Tutorials

The Student Support Team

Critical Thinking

Debate – The purpose of higher education is to provide knowledge

 

To view some of the other Student Hub Live sessions led by the Open University Sport and Fitness Team click on the link below:

Sport and Fitness Student Hub Live Sessions

 

 

 

Abstract Call for 4th Annual OU Sport & Fitness Conference – My Child: The Athlete

My Child: The Athlete

Tickets are on sale now – Click here to register!

The 4th annual OU Sport and Fitness Conference focuses on youth development in sport with particular attention paid to contemporary issues such as:

  • Youth physical development

    E.g. Strength and conditioning, injury prevention, physical literacy, skill acquisition

  • Psychological development

    E.g. Building resilience, coping with and learning from failure

  • Parental support for talented athletes

    E.g. Research to support parents of talented athletes, effects on siblings and family members, family dynamics and youth development

  • Coaching considerations when working with children

    E.g. planning training and practice, coaching behaviours, managing expectations, managing the needs of each athlete

With three world-leading keynotes confirmed, this promises to be an illuminating and thought provoking two days:

Toni Minichiello – Coach to GB’s 2012 gold medal-winning Olympian Jessica Ennis-Hill. (Day 1 evening keynote presenter)

Dr Jean CôtéProfessor at Queen’s University, Canada and world-renowned researcher within the fields of youth sports and coach development. @JeanCote46

Dr Camilla Knight – Associate Professor at Swansea University and leading expert on the psychosocial experiences of children in sport, with a particular focus upon the influence of parents. @cjknight

Whether you’re an academic, a student, a coach, teacher or parent, we invite you to join us for two action packed days full of dissemination, discussion, and learning opportunities.

Call for Abstracts (Now Open for Submissions):

The OU Sport and Fitness Conference team invites the submission of abstracts for consideration as either an oral or poster presentation. Submissions may have either an academic or applied focus resonating with the themes of the conference (see above bullet points). We would also welcome submissions which report on research in progress or the initial stages of development.

Please download the abstract submission guidelines here:

Abstract Submission Guidelines

Delegates:

Click here to register!

Full conference packages:
Access to the whole two days – keynotes and breakout sessions
Three course conference dinner on day 1*
Lunch and refreshments on both days

*Please note – we have a limited number of tickets for the evening session – book early to avoid disappointment.

Evening only package*:
Access to the evening session on day 1
Keynote presentation from Toni Minichiello
Q&A Panel with Toni, Dr Jean Côté and Dr Camilla Knight
Three course conference dinner

*Please note – the evening session will take place at Kents Hill Park Training and Conference Centre, MK7 6BZ. There are a limited number of tickets available for this session so please book early to avoid disappointment. 

Twitter

Don’t forget to follow us for all the latest conference updates: @OU_SportConf and use the hashtag #OUSportConf to share that you’ve registered!

 

We look forward to welcoming you to My Child: The Athlete in March 2019!

For any conference queries please contact WELS-Research-Events@open.ac.uk

 

Review of the Competing in the Dark: Mental Health in Sport Conference, March 2018

On 21st March 2018 we held our third annual sport and fitness conference, which explored the important topic of mental health in sport. By chance the conference coincided with the announcement that the government would be putting in place a mental health action plan for elite athletes. This timely event fuelled the enthusiasm for the topic before the day had even begun. We were joined by top class presenters and delegates from a wide range of backgrounds which led to some rich discussions on mental health.

MORNING SESSION

The morning session saw three diverse presentations from three of our keynote speakers. These presentations allowed us to examine mental health from the perspective of the athlete, researcher and professional body.

Keynote 1: Helen Richardson-Walsh, MBE
Reflections on a career in elite sport

The day kicked off with and inspiring and often emotional presentation from 2016 Olympic Gold Medallist Helen Richardson-Walsh.

Keynote 2: Jessie Barr, University of Limerick
Mental health stigma within an Irish sport context

Next up was our our invited PhD student speaker Jessie Barr who shared her research exploring mental health in elite athletes. Jessie’s presentation saw her draw on her fairly unique position of being a both a researcher and an Olympian.

Keynote 3: Richard Bryan, Rugby Players’ Association
Lift the weight: A player association perspective on mental health in professional sport

In our final keynote presentation before lunch Richard Bryan shared some of the the positive work that is being done to support the mental well-being of rugby players.

 

AFTERNOON SESSION

The afternoon session started with the parallel sessions where a wealth of diverse and informative presentations took place. These were followed by the poster presentations. Congratulations to Emily Lake (Career ending injury experiences of professional rugby players: A loss perspective) for winning the prize for best poster (sponsored by Switch the Play).

The day ended with our final keynote session from Dr Kitrina Douglas and Dr David Carless ‘“I couldn’t be successful without it being the most important thing”: The impact of stories on mental health in sport‘. This innovative session explored mental health in sport using stories and narrative case studies. The session was highly impactful and a fitting end to what was excellent day thanks to all of our presenters and delegates.

Click on the links below to view other posts about the Competing in the Dark Conference.

Conference: Competing in the Dark – Mental Health in Sport, The Open University, Milton Keynes, 21st March 2018

Competing in the Dark Conference Flyer

 

Join our team: Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology

Salary: £39,992 – £47,722
Location: Milton Keynes
Reference: 14942
Closing date: 24th August 2018 (5pm)

We are seeking an enthusiastic Lecturer to join our vibrant team of nine academic staff involved in writing online/print materials, overseeing online teaching and engaging in research that connects with our growing BSc (Hons) in Sport, Fitness and Coaching. You will be a specialist in sport and exercise psychology, with a good knowledge of a range of other sport and exercise related topics, including coaching, and be willing to work collaboratively with colleagues to develop distinctive distance learning materials for students and wider public engagement.

You will join a team which has developed an innovative approach to Sport, Exercise and Coaching education based on our expertise in distance education and will contribute to the maintenance of our existing curriculum and potential new curriculum (e.g. new modules and qualifications).

You must have a higher degree in Sport and Exercise Psychology or a related field, an established research profile, and an excellent knowledge of approaches to studying this area. You will have an understanding of distance learning; an ability to write clearly, sometimes outside of your subject area, for a diverse student audience and have proven experience of teaching in higher education.

Job Related Information (including person specification)

Information about Sport and Fitness qualifications at The Open University

Information about the Sport and Fitness team at The Open University

Click here for more information and to apply

 

What do the Numbers Really Mean? Interpreting England’s Match Statistics at the World Cup

By Alex Twitchen

It won’t have escaped most people’s attention that the World Cup begins on Thursday 14th June with Russia, the tournament hosts, playing Saudi Arabia.  England begin their campaign on Monday 18th June against Tunisia with a more muted sense of expectation than before.  As in previous tournaments England’s matches will be dissected by an army of pundits ready to offer their expert verdict on the team’s performances, but during this World Cup every pass, movement and attempt on goal will be scrutinised and supplemented by an increasing array of statistics that try to provide a more insightful analysis of each game.  Whether on television, newspapers or through social media you will find England’s performances measured by such things as: time in possession of the ball, number of shots attempted, the quality of these shots, percentage of completed passes, number of corners and free-kicks awarded or conceded, distance covered by each player, and the types of passes between players.  But what do these statistics really mean, how, as spectators and fans, might we interpret these numbers and use them to inform our own verdict on England’s performances?  In this blog I will outline two of the most commonplace statistics and show why we should treat them with a degree of scepticism if we really want to know how well or badly England have played.

Time in possession of the ball

One of the most common metrics used is time in possession of the ball.  Since the inauguration of the Premier League in 1992 the title winning team have been in possession of the ball for an average of about 55% to 60% of the time across all their games during the entire season.  Leicester’s amazing 2015-16 title performance is the exception since they won the league averaging just 44% of possession.  During the 2017-18 season Manchester City averaged just under 72% of possession but Swansea were relegated despite averaging 45% of possession which was more possession than 7th placed Burnley (44%), 10th placed Newcastle (42%) and 15th placed Brighton (44%).  Putting this another way Swansea were relegated having had more possession during the season than Leicester had when they won the title two years earlier.

Whilst having more possession of the ball is important, it is not necessarily a reliable measure of success.   Arsenal fans might appreciate this observation when their team lost 3-1 at home to Manchester United last December with Utd being in possession of the ball for just 27% of the game (https://www.transfermarkt.co.uk/arsenal-fc_manchester-united/statistik/spielbericht/2872256).

If we require a further lesson we should look back to the last European Championships when England lost to Iceland having had possession for 68% of the game and making twice the number of passes.  It is possible that England could, like Leicester, defy the numbers and win the World Cup having had less possession over the course of the tournament than their opponents.  This is unlikely, but we should exercise caution in assuming that having more possession of the ball is a straightforward indicator of a successful performance.

The number of successful passes completed

Another popular metric that you may see concerns the percentage of passes each player and the team successfully completes.  As with percentage possession time the number of successfully completed passes can be mis-leading because it does not identify the type of pass, where on the pitch the pass was made or the extent to which the pass helped to create, either directly or indirectly, a goal scoring chance.  Take this as an example, a Centre-Back has a pass completion rate of 85%, on face value this seems pretty good but when we look more closely at the passes we see that they are predominantly short passes played backwards and sideways when not under any pressure from an opponent and unlikely to help create a goal scoring chance.  Compare this to another Centre-Back whose pass completion rate is only 50% but many of these completed passes have helped to create a better attacking threat and led to more goal scoring attempts.  In this example you begin to wonder about the value of the metric since it tells us very little about the outcome of the actual passes completed.

Final thoughts

This World Cup and England’s performance, like no other previous tournament, will be dissected, analysed and examined through the application of statistical metrics.  Yet, as with any form of statistical analysis, we should ask important questions about what the numbers mean and how they might otherwise be interpreted.  What seems an impressive number could actually distort our understanding of what is really happening on the pitch.  The increasing use of statistics in football is certainly welcomed and provides some different insights into the game, but we should also view them from a critical and sceptical perspective and not let these numbers dominate our interpretation and understanding of the game.

Student Story: John Curd (part 2)

Back in 2016 we featured John Curd in one of our ‘student stories’. John has a truly inspirational story and shows how studying with the OU can really turn your life around. John has now completed his BSc (hons) in Sport, Fitness and Coaching and recently attended his graduation ceremony. As you can see from the photographs he had a great day. As one of our older graduates John is proof that’s it’s never to late to achieve your dreams. We are very proud John and all of our sport and fitness graduates. If you have recently graduated and would like to share your graduation photos and/or tell us what your graduation day was like please contact us at WELS-Sports@open.ac.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To read part 1 of John’s student story click here.

To read all of our student stories click here.

Join our Team: Lecturer in Sport, Exercise and Coaching

We are seeking an enthusiastic Lecturer to join our vibrant team of nine academic staff involved in writing online/print materials, overseeing teaching activities and engaging in research/scholarship that connects with our growing BSc (Hons) in Sport, Fitness and Coaching. You will have good knowledge of a range of sport and exercise related topics and be willing to work collaboratively with colleagues to develop high quality distance learning materials for students and for wider public engagement.

You will join a team which has developed an innovative approach to Sport and Fitness education based on our expertise in distance education, and will contribute to the maintenance of our existing curriculum and potential new curriculum developments (e.g. new modules, Masters degree, higher/degree level Apprenticeship).

You must have a higher degree or equivalent professional knowledge in Sport and Fitness or a related field and a good understanding of approaches to studying this topic. You will have an understanding of distance learning; an ability to write clearly and cogently for a diverse student audience and have some experience of teaching in higher education.

Job Related Information (including person specification)

Information about Sport and Fitness qualifications at The Open University

Information about the Sport and Fitness team at The Open University

Click here to apply

Closing date: Thursday 16th April 2018 (5pm)

 

PyeongChang 2018 Part 2: Speed, skill and risk….. The fearless are back!

By Candice Lingam-Willgoss

 

 

Just as the dust has started to settle on the most successful Winter Olympics to date for Great Britain a new team of superstars have landed in PyeongChang.  Today sees the start of the Paralympics which run from 9 to 18 March 2018. With 80 medals up for grabs in six Paralympic sports the next 10 days promise to excite, amaze, and inspire the next generation of Para-athletes.

A reminder: where is Pyeongchang?

Pyeongchang is located in the Taebaek Mountains of South Korea, approximately 180km east of the capital city Seoul. Pyeongchang will be the third Asian city to host the Winter Games; the first two were in Japan, at Sapporo (1972) and Nagano (1998).  Events are taking place at two main locations Alpensia Resort and Gangneug Olympic park with several other standalone venues for the snow based sports.

What events are there?

There are six winter Paralympic sports:

  • Alpine skiing
  • Biathlon
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Ice sledge hockey
  • Snowboarding
  • Wheelchair curling

This is the first time that snowboarding has been added as a separate discipline and will include banked slalom and board cross.

Can Team GB win any medals?

In short yes, Team GB are sending their biggest team since 2006 comprising of 17 athletes across 5 of the 8 disciplines (Alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, snowboarding and wheelchair curling).

The biggest medal prospect has to be Millie Knight, having lost her sight at aged six she became the youngest person ever to compete for Team GB at the Winter Paralympic games in Sochi at only 15 years old.  Roll forward 4 years and she is coming into the Pyeongchang games having won a gold and two silver’s at the 2017 World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Italy.  Let’s see if she and her guide Brett Wild can improve on her 5th place she got at Sochi.

With snowboarding featuring for the first time as its own discipline the trio of GB Paralympic snowboarders are a group to watch. Flag bearer Owen Pick lost his leg following an explosion in Afghanistan in 2010 and saw snowboarding on the television during his rehab.  In the 2017 World Championships Pick won silver in the banked slalom and he is hoping for a double at this year’s games where he will also compete in the snowboard cross event.

2 years ago Scott Meenagh hadn’t put on a pair of cross country skis but he surprised the winter sport’s world and has qualified in six events over two disciplines of cross-country and biathlon.

Others to watch

The Canadian cross-country specialist Brian McKeever has 10 Winter Paralympic gold medals to his name already and while he may not be able to surpass the success of Germany’s Gert Schonfelder’s who currently has 16 medals he could get a step closer in Pyeongchang.

French alpine skier Marie Bochet competed in 4 events in Sochi 2014 and won them all, in Pyeongchang she aims to go one better and is competing in five events saying ‘I want to win … all the time’

Home advantage may not be something regularly associated with winter sports but Korea are hoping it helps them in their quest for their first ever winter Paralympic gold. A medal is a possibility potentially from alpine skier Jae Rim Yang.

So for now sit back and watch round 2 of the entertainment on the snow and ice.