Researchers are breaking new ground in sports science with the use of tiny ingestible wireless capsule capable of measuring core body temperature. It’s believed to be the first time these thermoregulatory sensors have been trialled with sportswomen and certainly a first in New Zealand.
To kick off the study, North Shore-based soccer player Hayley Hoegendyk swallowed the wireless tablet and then took part in a series of soccer performance tests in the Massey Auckland Recreation Centre, where researchers monitored how hot she was getting while undergoing vigorous exercise and how well she was performing.
The trial is the initiative of Massey Sport and Exercise Scientist Dr Ajmol Ali in collaboration with Dr Nick Gant at Auckland University. The wireless devices in tablet form have been trialled by coaches of male soccer players and footballers overseas to monitor body temperature but they have not been used in women’s soccer – the world’s fastest growing sport.
Dr Ali says although their high performing male counterparts are a well researched group, elite female players need separate study because their physiological responses are likely to be different. Overheating can have serious consequences for sports people, he says, and researchers are seeking to work out when soccer players should be pulled off the field because their core body temperature is too high and when they need fluid for re-hydration.
The night before the New Zealand study, Ms Hoegendyk swallowed the tablet before going to bed. The following day, as Ms Hoegendyk went through performance tests in the University’s gym Dr Ali and Dr Gant were receiving data direct to their computer from the tablet in her intestine. They say the tablets typically pass through the system within 24 hours.