5 July 2019

De Vierdaagse is een unieke gelegenheid om onderzoek te doen naar bewegen en gezonde leefstijl. Dit jaar kijkt het team van Maria Hopman naar het effect van de leefomgeving op beweeggedrag. In twee andere studies wordt gekeken naar de werking van nitraatrijke groenten op de bloeddruk, en de gevolgen van een actieve leefstijl voor patiënten met darmziekten. Daarnaast kijken onderzoekers van de Radboud Universiteit dit jaar naar de luchtkwaliteit waar wandelaars aan blootgesteld worden tijdens het evenement. In samenwerking met de provincie Gelderland wordt dit jaar ook onderzoek gedaan naar voeding in sportkantines en bij sportevenementen.

The Vierdaagse is a unique opportunity to conduct research into physical activity and healthy lifestyle. This year, Maria Hopman’s team will be looking into the effect of the living environment on physical behavior. Two other studies examined the effects of nitrate-rich vegetables on blood pressure and the impact of an active lifestyle on patients with intestinal illnesses. This year, Radboud University researchers will also investigate the air quality to which marchers are exposed during the event. In collaboration with the Province of Gelderland, the food at sports cafes and sporting events will be studied this year as well.

The long-running, Vierdaagse research project by Maria Hopman, Professor of Integrative Physiology, will enter its ninth year in 2019. The study examines the effects of a healthy lifestyle on over 12,000 marchers over the course of several years. This year, the researchers are specifically examining the impact of the spatial environment on physical activity. What influence does the living environment have on people’s physical behavior? How can the design of the living environment be changed to stimulate healthy behavior?

Vital vegetables

Proper nutrition is beneficial for people with high blood pressure. In the project “Heart Beet”, researchers from Radboud university medical center and the HAN University of Applied Sciences are examining the effect of nitrate-rich foods. Drinking beet juice can lower your blood pressure, but does eating nitrate-rich vegetables like spinach and arugula help as well? 90 Vierdaagse marchers with slightly elevated blood pressure have begun participating in the study. One group is given beet juice. A second group receives lifestyle coaching to encourage a healthy, nitrate-rich diet. The third group is the control group. They are allowed to eat as they typically would. In addition to the effects of a nitrate-rich diet on blood pressure, the researchers will also be examining the impact on effort and performance.

Marchers with intestinal diseases

A third study will investigate walking and intestinal disease. In a collaboration with De Gelderse Vallei Hospital and Wageningen University & Research, marchers with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis will be researched. Patients with these intestinal diseases are often hesitant to move too much, even though this can have positive effects on the symptoms of their illness. The researchers will examine the effects of walking on inflammation, bowel movements, and disease activity.

Healthy food at sporting events?

Together with the Province of Gelderland, we will also look into the food provided at sports cafes and sporting events. Is there a healthy food offering or is it still mainly greasy snacks? Will people opt for the healthy snack when it’s available? How can we encourage that?

Health and lifestyle

Since 2011, the departments of Physiology and Health Evidence at Radboud university medical center have been collaborating on a long-term study into the health differences between Vierdaagse marchers and the non-marching control group. In order to do this, the participants receive an annual request to complete an online survey about their health and lifestyle. Partners, children, grandchildren, family members, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances who are not taking part in the Vierdaagse also receive a request to complete the online questionnaire. Through this method, scientists are able to research the impact of an active lifestyle on health, quality of life, disease progression, and illness perception, by comparing the marchers with the control group. You can participate via www.vierdaagseonderzoek.nl.

Air quality for marchers

For the third year in a row, a component of Maria Hopman’s research will involve Simona Cristescu, Radboud University physicist, collecting and analyzing exhaled air from marchers. She does this to study volatile metabolites in patients with inflammatory bowel disease. She is also launching a new experimental design in which she will examine the air quality before, during, and after the Vierdaagse in order to research which pollutants marchers are exposed to along the route. Together with TNO and Utrecht University, she has set up sensors in a cargo bike that will continuously measure fine particles and specific gases, such as ozone and nitrogen dioxide. The cargo bike will be cycled along the marching route. This information will be compared with measurements from permanent measuring stations along the route.

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Margie Alders

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