University’s HPU- tried and tested

Open to both those at the university and the public, the human performance unit (HPU) monitors athletic activity to help individuals achieve their sporting goals.

Kelly Murray, the practice educator and manager of the HPU, works in the university’s school of sport as a sports scientist.

She said: “Because we know people have other commitments, we make sure we make the most of every training session.”

The facilities allow identification of areas of improvement in athlete’s activities, showing their personal strengths and weaknesses. The tests are versatile and can gather data for every type of sport from endurance sports to athletics.

Athletes are given a specific schedule to aid them in recovery, created from tests which measure their physiology before and after a sporting injury.

Murray said: “These are the extra little bits you can do to make the difference between third and fourth place.”

The information gathered from these tests can also aid staff working with the athletes, informing them of effective personalised diets the athlete can undertake and preventing them from overtraining.

She mentioned that the sports team Colchester United had also used these facilities before.

Local reporter, Daniel Rees had taken part in an experiment at the HPU to test his maximum aerobic capacity.

To prepare the athlete to achieve accurate results, blood pressure and initial measurements were taken before they were asked to complete a warm up and a set of jumping tests.

The main experiment comprised of running on a treadmill at a comfortable pace for three minutes with thirty seconds of break.

Throughout the test, Rees was asked to wear a mask which measured the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide inhaled and exhaled. The results were recorded on the computer next to the treadmill.

To measure haemoglobin levels, blood samples were taken from the ear of the athlete. Using Deep Heat, blood was brought to the surface of the skin where a starting sample was obtained.

After each stage of running, more blood was extracted to monitor haemoglobin levels. In blood, haemoglobin is a protein that carries oxygen through the body from the respiratory organs. With activity, the levels may increase.

The athlete continued this process of activity and rest until he could no longer continue and soon after, the test results were sent to the athlete, detailing their performance.

The HPU is an applied sports science unit, offering services and advice to individuals and teams from all sporting backgrounds and abilities.

Services offered include lab and field testing, nutrition, psychology and performance analysis.

The university is ranked highly on equipment and facilities they offer for sport. For sports students, they can benefit from having access to new and updated equipment.

The Human Performance Unit at the University of Essex is placed number one for employability in the UK for sports science.