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Research aims to lower blood pressure

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Zuleika HendersonSharlene King
Published
20 July 2011
Southern Cross University researchers are seeking volunteers to assist with a new project aimed at shedding more light on managing high blood pressure without the use of drugs.

The study, which has been approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee of Southern Cross University, is seeking participants aged 18-60 with higher than normal blood pressure but who are not yet on medication. Research sessions will take place in the pool at the Southern Cross University’s Lismore campus and will investigate how immersion in water and water exercise may affect blood pressure.

Roz Beavers from Southern Cross University’s School of Health and Human Sciences, who is undertaking the project as part of a PhD in exercise physiology, said the research would focus on management of high blood pressure, or hypertension, as an alternative to medication.

“There is a stage between normal blood pressure and high blood pressure which is called pre-hypertension - so we are looking at that small window before people go on medication to see what effects exercise in the water may have on slowing the progression to hypertension,” said Ms Beavers.

“We’ll be asking the volunteers to participate in neck deep immersion and water exercise in a heated pool in order to monitor and investigate their blood pressure and heart rate responses.

“People don’t need to be good swimmers to participate, just confident in a swimming pool and able to attend the pool in Lismore on a few occasions.

“What makes this research interesting is that exercising in the water may have additional benefits to just exercising on land because of the effect of the water pressure on the body itself, and the resulting release of hormones that have an effect on our fluid regulation.

“We already know that exercise is part of a good hypertension management strategy, but we think that exercise in water could be even more beneficial and this study will help to establish that.

“Not only that, but as hypertension and being overweight often go hand-in-hand, exercising in the water presents a safe way for people to get regular exercise without putting pressure on their joints, so it’s an important area of research.”

For more information on the research project or to participate, email
rosalind.beavers@scu.edu.au or call 02 6620 3499

Photo: Roz Beavers is undertaking research on hypertension (high resolution image available on request)

Students with a passion for making a difference in the world have partnered with Lismore-based community organisations to help deliver real social change through two new hands-on units being offered at Southern Cross University.

The outcomes of the students’ collaborations with Wilsons River Landcare Group Inc, Winsome Soup Kitchen, and Remembering and Healing were presented at the University’s Lismore campus today (December 17) during a showcase and celebration event. Representatives from the partner organisations and the students were present.

The capstone units ‘Community Partnerships for Social Change I and II’ (CPSC) were offered for the first time this year.

The CPSC units were delivered by Mr Ben Roche, Head of Sustainability, Partnerships and Community Engagement, and Professor of Cultural Studies Baden Offord in the School of Arts and Social Sciences.

Mr Roche said the University introduced CPSC to further realise the University’s vision of enriching communities through the achievements of its graduates.

“By combining students’ strengths, experience and passion with the social change agenda of community organisations we not only deliver real projects that help partners make a difference but we create inspiring and valuable learning experiences for students.

“Through an emphasis on real world projects, students are given an opportunity to activate their knowledge and develop skills to help them make a difference in their future careers and lives,” said Mr Roche.

Students doing CPSC work on real world projects in a collaborative environment with fellow students, academics, practitioners and community partners from a range of disciplinary backgrounds, perspectives and life experiences. Through a process emphasising critical reflection, collaboration and experiential learning, the projects are defined and delivered, whilst engaging students in diverse perspectives of social change, active citizenship, collaboration, ethics and values.

Professor Offord said the opportunity and challenge of working together with community organisations had been a very positive experience for the students.

“Drawing on the scholarship that they have gained in their studies at SCU, they have been able to use their skills in thinking and communication to make a difference in the community.

“Overall, I think for the students, the units and projects have been an illuminating learning experience, and at times quite transformative. It has been inspiring to see them step up and make a commitment for social change in such a practical and thoughtful way,” Professor Offord said.

The partnerships:

Project: Stories of the Winsome – documentary; website update
Partner: Winsome Soup Kitchen - Mieke Bell

Lismore is an area with a high number of people that are, for varying reasons, without a home. The Lismore Soup Kitchen Inc has been in operation since 1990 to provide meals, accommodation and social support to various groups of marginalised people looking for social contact as well as the basic essentials of life. In 2009 the Lismore Soup Kitchen purchased the Winsome Hotel and has been providing accommodation and daily meals at its new home since then. The Soup kitchen is staffed entirely by volunteers and has about 50 members. www.winsome.org.au
The students made a documentary about the Winsome Soup Kitchen’s history, people, projects and challenges. They also updated the Winsome’s website to make it more informative and added a capacity to act as a fundraising platform. They also created a social media network.

Project: Remembering and Healing - video/ad
Partner: Remembering and Healing - Sabine Baltruweit

Remembering and Healing (RaH) is a Lismore-based community group that wants the values of Anzac Day to be relevant and meaningful to all of multicultural Australia. RaH organises Anzac Day events that model how commemorations of wars can be inclusive, remembering all who have suffered through war, on all sides, civilian and military, without any glorification of war. RaH believes that remembering of war always needs to go hand-in-hand with the strong commitment to work towards peace. Only by striving to prevent the suffering of war in future can we truly honour those who suffered in the past. www.rah.org.au
With five years’ experience organising multicultural and multi-faith peace events on Anzac Day locally, RaH is now seeking to initiate a discussion of the values of Anzac Day at a national level. The students created an audio visual resource promoting the values of RaH that can be used an advertisement and educational tool.

Project: We Keep it Fun & Funky – social media
Partner: Wilsons River Landcare Group Inc - Vanessa Tallon and Vanessa Ekins

The Wilsons River Landcare Group (WRLG), formed in 1993, is one of the oldest Landcare groups in NSW. The WRLG originally worked on private land to the north and south of Lismore, but the focus has shifted to working on highly visible publicly owned land in urban Lismore. As well as regular working days, WRLG organises Lismore’s annual National Tree Day riverbank tree planting, participates in many stakeholder forums and undertakes planning for the restoration of the urban river reach in Lismore.
WRLG needed to tell its story to members and the community by broadening and strengthening its use of social media. The heart and soul of the group are the volunteers and their families. Children have grown up while being actively involved in planting, playing and having fun on the riverbank. Over the years, the group has watched children grow to become leaders environmental projects in their schools and for the oldest of the children become a leader in national youth environmental movements. The students created the WRLG Blog, Twitter account and YouTube channel to integrate with WRLG’s existing use of social media and the social activities of the group.

The ‘Community Partnerships for Social Change I’ and ‘Community Partnerships for Social Change II’ units are offered in session 2 and session 3 respectively as part of the Bachelor of Arts and the Bachelor of Social Science degrees for those students who have completed 16 units of study.

Photo: Remembering and Healing's Micky Foss (back row, L to R), Margaret Loong and Sho Wakejima with student Arden Exley, and in the front row (L to R) students Emma Tunbridge and Ben Roberts with RaH's Karen Alexander.

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