Author Archives: The Conversation

Fitbit’s decline is a reflection of the end of the over-hyped promise of wearables

by David Glance, University of Western Australia

As the market leader, Fitbit has always been regarded as being synonymous with wearables in general. Its launch as a public company was at a point when the hype of wearables was at a peak with claims of the technology bring about a revolution in healthcare.

Unfortunately, the revolution never happened and Fitbit itself has now hit a wall. Sales are down, and last week, Fitbit reported a financial loss and announced it would be laying off 6% of its staff. Its share price is around 90% down on its peak of US $51 in 2015.

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Playing is not coaching: why so many sporting greats struggle as coaches

By Steven Rynne, The University of Queensland and Chris Cushion, Loughborough University

In top-level sport, success is the overwhelming criterion for judging coaches. In professional sport, team owners, directors and fans clearly value the product (winning) greater than the process (performance).

Former elite players who become coaches are able immediately to garner respect and offer the seductive promise of having “been there and done it”, according to former tennis player Boris Becker. They understand the sport, the club, the fans – and, most importantly, how to win.

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Running makes you smarter – here’s how

Vybarr Cregan-Reid, University of Kent

As far back as the Greeks and Romans, humans have documented the belief that there is a strong link between exercise and intelligence. But in the last two decades, neuroscience has begun to catch up with Thales and Juvenal’s idea that a sound mind flourishes in a healthy body. While the studies unite in telling us that running will makes us smarter, it is only partly true. The process is more complicated and reveals more about the wonderful complexities of both the human body and its evolution. Although the science might be helping us to understand how the mechanisms work, an important question remains: why does running make us smarter?

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Corporate cult or fitness family: what is the secret of CrossFit’s success?

Amanda Crompton, University of Nottingham; Laurie Cohen, University of Nottingham, and Sareh Pouryousefi, University of Nottingham

CrossFit bestrides the world of urban exercise like a colossus – one with especially great abs. The reach of its ever-expanding empire is writ large on the company’s own website, where the number of affiliated “boxes” – CrossFit-speak for gyms – is charted on a global map. When you’ve cracked the French Polynesian market, you’re probably entitled to regard yourself as an international success story.

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Should we still be choosing fat-free over full-fat products?

by Rebecca Charlotte Reynolds, UNSW Australia

bacon-and-eggsLight or “lite”, 99% fat-free, reduced fat, low fat, less fat, reduced calorie, low calorie, lean, extra lean – are products with these labels always healthier?

First, let’s talk about fat. Fat in foods and drinks is either unsaturated (monounsaturated or polyunsaturated, the latter as omega-3 or -6; or trans-fats), saturated.

These differ based on their chemical structures and properties, including whether they are “saturated” with more hydrogen atoms and are liquid or solid at room temperature. They also differ in their effects on human health.

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Supplements are an expensive and potentially toxic lucky dip

by Rachael Dunlop

The vitamin and supplement industry is big business in Australia. An estimated 75% of the population use some form of complementary medicines, including vitamins, minerals, herbs, aromatherapy and homeopathic products.

But some vitamin supplements and protein powders at best don’t work and, at worst, can cause harm.

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Dear Prince Charles: an open letter about homeopathy from a chemist

Mark Lorch, University of Hull

prince-charlesYour Royal Highness,

Your recent speech in which you proposed using homeopathy to treat livestock as a solution to the overuse of antibiotics was most interesting. Given that you delivered this to a gathering of international scientists and government officials, you clearly see yourself as qualified to explain the virtues of homeopathy.

Therefore would you please oblige me by answering some questions that I have regarding this most controversial of alternative therapies.

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