As well as researching the physiology of the heart itself, researchers in the HMRI cardiovascular group have a strong focus on how the heart and cardiovascular system responds to physical activity and how healthy interventions can help to prevent cardiovascular disease development.
Around 62 per cent of Australians adults do not meet the recommended physical activity guidelines (Source - Better Health Channel) whilst only 5.5% of Australian adults had an adequate usual daily intake of fruit and vegetables (Source - Heart Foundation).
Researchers in this group have developed a number of intervention strategies and studies to improve the physical activity status of children and adults including the SHED-IT (Self-Help, Exercise, Diet and Information Technology) study, Healthy Dads and Healthy Kids, ATLAS (Active Teen Leaders Avoiding Screen Time) and NEAT Girls (Nutrition and Enjoyable Activity for Teen Girls). Many of these programs have received prestigious accolades including the highly successful obesity prevention program Healthy Dads and Healthy Kids which won the Excellence in Obesity Prevention Award from the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention in Australia in 2014.
The role of the diet is an important factor to consider in cardiovascular health. With 63% of Australians now overweight or obese (Source – Australian Institute of Health and Welfare), the need for good quality research and clinical intervention studies to optimise dietary intake is growing
The role of the diet and specific functional foods or ‘neutraceuticals’ which can contribute to better health and in particular, better heart function, has been the interest of researchers within the cardiovascular research group for some time. Foods such as turmeric, olive leaf, green coffee beans, beetroot, fish oil, resveratrol (the antioxidant component in red wine) and fructose are all potential dietary components that have an effect of the health of the heart and are being studied by the cardiovascular research group at HMRI.