Alliance for Research in Exercise, Nutrition and Activity (ARENA)

ARENA

Evaluating the role of exercise, nutrition and activity for promoting health and performance

The Alliance for Research in Exercise, Nutrition and Activity (ARENA) is a research concentration within the University of South Australia’s premier health and biomedical research institute, the Sansom Institute for Health Research. ARENA investigates the role of exercise, nutrition and other lifestyle activities for improving clinical and health outcomes, as well as physical, psychological and sports performance, in populations ranging from children to elite athletes and people with chronic disease.

ARENA contributed substantially to the University of South Australia achieving the highest possible ranking for research performance in Nutrition and Dietetics research, Human Movement and Sports Science research, and Clinical Sciences research, in the most recent Excellence in Research for Australia evaluation by the Australian Research Council. The University of South Australia was one of only two universities in the country to achieve the highest possible ranking in all three of these disciplines.

ARENA has substantial expertise in the conduct of epidemiological analyses, systematic reviews and clinical trials. Clinical trials are performed in accordance with ICH-GCP guidelines, ensuring strict compliance with requirements of regulatory authorities.

Research Capabilities

ARENA has world class research facilities and experience in assessing:

Cardiovascular health 

  • Flow-mediated dilatation
  • Arterial compliance
  • Ambulatory blood pressure
  • ECG assessment
  • Cerebrovascular function

Metabolism and body composition 

  • Indirect calorimetry
  • Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry
  • 3-D body scanning
  • Environmental chamber

Brain function

  • Cognitive/mood test banks
  • Cortical plasticity
  • Near infrared spectroscopy

Muscle strength and physical function 

  • Cycle ergometry
  • Isokinetic dynamometry
  • Treadmill testing

Gait and movement analysis

  • High speed cameras
  • Force-plate analysis
  • Movement digitisation

Physical activity and use of time 

  • Accelerometry
  • Computerised use of time assessment (MARCA)
  • Wellbeing testbanks

Biological assays/techniques 

  • Dietary assessment
  • Gas chromatography
  • High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)
  • Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) 
  • Autoanalysers
  • Needle biopsy
  • Blood sampling

Examples of recent projects 

Some recent projects in which ARENA has been engaged include:

  • Active Healthy Kids Australia (AHKA) Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Young People
  • Health effects of:
    • low-carbohydrate diets
    • omega-3 fatty acids
    • the Mediterranean diet
    • pulses and legumes
    • nuts
    • a high dairy intake
    • cocoa flavanols
  • Dairy protein for increasing strength and muscle mass in older adults
  • Protein hydrolysates to speed recovery after exercise
  • Potential for lutein to increase physical activity
  • Perceptual regulation of exercise for controlling exercise intensity
  • Heart rate kinetics at exercise onset for tracking fatigue in athletes
  • Preventing overtraining in defence force recruits
  • Measuring size and shape of defence personnel
  • Exercise for improving outcomes in cancer patients
  • Using Facebook and online social networks to increase physical activity
  • Australian Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity survey


Research Students

For a full list of our research students please click here

Areas of research focus

ARENAs research focuses on:

  • strategies to increase physical activity
  • strategies to improve health-related use of time
  • improving health outcomes in patient groups
  • reducing disease risk
  • quantifying physical fatigue in athletes
  • improving physical recovery in athletes
  • evaluating effects of bioactive nutrients
  • web- and mobile device-based interventions
  • development of wearable monitor technologies

Research Translation

The research undertaken by ARENA has been used to change policy and practice in the following ways:

  • support health claims for omega-3 fatty acids and cocoa polyphenols
  • patents for new functional nutrients
  • patents for technology to monitor fatigue in athletes
  • changes in NHMRC approved guidelines for the management of patients with polycystic ovary syndrome
  • inform guidelines for moderate-vigorous activity for obesity management in children
  • inform guidelines related to screen time for maintaining health

Contact details

Media enquiries:
Please visit the Media Centre 

All other enquiries:

e: ARENA@unisa.edu.au
t: +61 8 8302 6558

Postal address:

Alliance for Research in Exercise, Nutrition and Activity (ARENA)
University of South Australia,
City East Campus, Frome Road,
GPO Box 2471
Adelaide, SA, 5001

Areas of study and research

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