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Exercise and Health

Profile of the research cluster »Exercise and Health«

We look at the field »Exercise and Health« from different angles in our research cluster. For example, we examine health-related physical effects of professional athletes (e.g. injuries, damage of overuse and long-term damages) as well as health promoting effects of physical activity. We carry out research with a diverse group of participants, ranging from elite athletes to recreational athletes up to the sick person that benefits from therapeutic/rehabilitative physical movement strategies in secondary and tertiary prevention approaches.

The research cluster encompasses three scientific closely-connected key areas:

  • Prevention, diagnostics and treatment of injuries, overuse damage and long-term effects in professional athletes. Training optimization and the translation of research findings to the general population and patients,
  • Effects of physical activity on primary, secondary and tertiary prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of physical and psychological disorders (»Exercise is Medicine«)
  • Improvement of cognitive skills and motor learning in neurological and geriatric rehabilitation.

This approach is innovative in translating sport scientific and sport-medical, as well as pedagogic-/neuropsychological findings into treatment of neurological, orthopedic, psychiatric and geriatric patients.

Scientific streams in the research cluster Exercise and Health

Health and Performance in Sport and Society

The stream Health and Performance in Sport and Society encompasses the following disciplines

  • Sports Medicine
  • Sport- and Human Movement Sciences, Sport Psychology
  • Orthopedics
  • Internal Medicine
  • Neurology
  • Radiology and other medical subjects

This stream incorporates both sport- as well as research on epidemiology, risk factors and prevention of injuries and disorders in professional athletes. We currently run several studies on sport injuries, long-term effects and psychological disorders of professional athletes.

Exercise is Medicine

In the stream Exercise is Medicine, a number of experts collaborate in the following fields

  • Neurology
  • Geriatrics
  • Internal- and General Medicine
  • Orthopedics
  • Psychiatry
  • Rehabilitation Medicine
  • Sport Sciences
  • Sport Psychology
  • Physiotherapy
  • Sport Therapy
  • Neuro Psychology
  • Pedagogics and
  • Health Economics

Core concept of this stream is to use physical activity as a means to treat non-communicable diseases and to identify and define the dose-response relationship. We seek to understand in greater detail how a therapeutic- and training plan can be designed to optimally use neuroplastic processes (growth factors, blood flow, immune system, neurogenesis, metabolism) in a secondary- and tertiary prevention to modulate neurodegenerative, neurovascular and chronic-inflammatory disorders and geriatric medicine.

Cognitive Function and Motor Learning

The stream Cognitive Function and Motor Learning encompasses the disciplines

  • Neurology
  • Rehabilitation Medicine
  • Geriatrics
  • Sport Sciences / Human Movement Sciences
  • Physiotherapy, Sport Therapy
  • Neuropsychology
  • General Psychology

Along with aerobic training, a target-oriented training approach in the sense of motor learning is an integral aspect of neuroplastic enhancing sport effects. The learning processes for the acquisition of new movement skills in a healthy brain (of an athlete) is often comparable to the processes that can be seen in re-learning of movement skills (e.g. after strokes) or are attached to similar dose-response relationship issues. And even though the field of physiotherapy for patients with central nervous system damages has changed towards a promoting and activating approach (repetitive training), it still remains unclear how rehabilitation plans should be structured in order to achieve best results. Besides, the influence of contextual factors (e.g. sleep, depression, interferential problems, and medication) that may impact learning processes during the therapeutic session are barely considered in practical approaches. Along with physical activity and motor learning, the training of cognitive skills, executive function, action- and attention control skills are relevant in a number of clinical pictures.

Current projects in the research cluster Exercise and Health

  • German