To celebrate International Women’s Day 2020 on Sunday 8 March, I joined other talented women academic staff and students at a civic event in Nottingham Old Market Square. The free event was jointly hosted by the University of Nottingham is with Nottingham Trent University and featured fun, interactive activities for all ages offering an insight into some of the amazing work that happens across the university’s campuses.
Along with my colleagues and students from the Sports and Exercise Medicine course, we presented activities and information on the science behind great women sporting achievements – how your body works when you exercise and why physical activity is great for your health and wellbeing. With the help of a static bicycle visitors had the chances to measure how the amount carbon dioxide they breathe out changes during exercise and children could compare their exercising heart rates with those of different animals.
Women's Health and Tai Chi
I also showcased some of my past research relevant to women's health, in particular osteoarthritis. Women have a higher risk of developing osteoarthritis than men. Our recent analysis of over 100 studies showed that exercise therapy, in any form, has clear benefits for people with knee and hip osteoarthritis, but that effectiveness is dependent on both the type of exercise and the type of outcome required. We found that mind and body exercises such as tai-chi showed the greatest improvements in osteoarthritis knee pain. We were fortunate to have MSc Applied Sport and Exercise Medicine student and Tai-chi instructor James Screeton, who provided Tai-chi taster sessions every hour for anyone attending the event.
We were able to engage with members of the public and share our findings from our paper 'Relative Efficacy of Different Exercises for Pain, Function, Performance & Quality of Life in Knee & Hip Osteoarthritis: Systematic Review & Network Meta-Analysis' whilst demonstrating how they can benefit from our results through practicing tai chi and other exercises. We also shared information in how the public can get involved in some of our future studies including my upcoming gut microbiome study and also becoming a Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) representative.
The event aimed to inspire young women in Nottingham and challenge the preconceptions and prejudices about gender roles and limitations, particularly around the science, technology, engineering and medical agenda and I look forward to participating again next year.