25 Days of CoDI: Day 2

On the second day of CoDI, it came as news to me, that exercise is bad for you…


Professor Derek Ball: Exercise is Bad for You

What is your background?

derek ballI have a non-standard background. First of all I trained as a registered general nurse (RGN) in London in the mid 1980’s, before entering higher education.  My first degree was in Sport Science, which I studied at Manchester Metropolitan University. Following this I completed a PhD in Medical Sciences (diet and exercise performance) in the Medical School at Aberdeen University. My first job after finishing my PhD was at the Marine Biology department (the Gatty) in St Andrews. Here I studied the effects of temperature change on fish muscle performance. My experience in St Andrews was especially relevant, and really set my career using molecular biology to understand muscle function.


What do you do now?

I am an Associate Professor in Applied and Integrative Physiology and the Director of Post-Graduate Studies in Human Health and Disease, at Heriot-Watt University. I have been at Heriot-Watt University since 2006. I arrived here in Edinburgh after working for the Ministry of Defence on life support systems on nuclear submarines.


How does your CoDI talk fit with your research?

My research focuses on human metabolism and health and the effects of our lifestyle on these factors. Exercise is a good experimental model to use when looking at the response to an increase in energy expenditure and how the body simultaneously co-ordinates several different organ systems to meet these demands. However, sometimes we can over-stress the body and this tells us something about the limits to the human body and how these are manifested. Exercise is generally thought to be good for us but there are exceptions to this rule and my talk will explore some of these more controversial ideas by looking at several organ systems.


Why are you participating in CoDI 2016?

I participated in CoDI 2015, discussing whether we should allow athletes to take performance enhancing drugs and the possible implications. I enjoyed the experience so much that I volunteered to appear again in 2016.


What are you looking forward to most from CoDI?

First and foremost interacting with you the audience. The audience are always interested in hearing what you have to say. Secondly, taking the CoDI experience back to the lecture theatre, last year’s experience helped me to engage with my students more effectively!

Derek’s show takes place on Friday 5th August, Stand in the Square (Venue 372), 3-4pm, £8 (£6)

Purchase tickets at: http://www.outstandingtickets.com/show/101/performance/1536/book-tickets

With special thanks to sponsors Royal Society of Biology

Derek Exercise