Tribute to Dr Phil Penny

PACE yourself and your swimmers at Christmas

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If you are have any interest in sport and exercise then you will be aware of Loughborough University. It has for many years occupied a unique place in this country’s sport. As PWTAG, we are well into our first year at on the campus and at our December council meeting we took the opportunity to review progress. One of the reasons we moved to Loughborough was to be close to other organisations with whom we have a common interest. We are just at the threshold of exploring and developing these relationships – but making progress. Perhaps by osmosis, we will become more expert, better at all we do to improve pools.

Last year at this time Loughborough’s experts sent out a yuletide message extolling the benefits of exercise in calorie control. Promoting exercise in using up more calories than taking them in.

“It’s physics” explained Dr James King, a Loughborough University lecturer in exercise physiology. “But there are a few mistakes people commonly make despite the basics being straightforward.”

One such pitfall is just guessing at, or being unaware of, your calorie intake and expenditure. It is important to know how much energy (in calories) you spend each day, and how many calories you eat. The guide they published showed that an hour of swimming for a 13-stone person uses 587calories, or 397 calories if you’re 9 stone.

This year the Loughborough message is in a similar vein, given that we tend to over-indulge in eating and drinking. It calls for food to be labelled with physical activity calorie equivalent (PACE) guidance. Why? Well there is limited evidence that nutritional labelling on food and drink is changing eating behaviours. PACE labelling aims to provide the public with information about the amount of physical activity required to expend the number of kilocalories in food and drink. Instead, something like ‘the calories in this pizza require 60 minutes of swimming to burn off’ will encourage healthier food choices and reduce disease.

Lead researcher Professor Amanda Daley said: “We are interested in different ways of getting the public to make good decisions about what they eat and also trying to get the public more physically active.” And labelling food with ‘exercise calories’ made it easier for people to understand what they were eating and nudge them into making better choices.

Prof Daley said many people would be shocked to realise how much physical exercise would be required to burn off calories from certain snacks and treats.

“We know that the public routinely underestimate the number of calories that are in foods,” she said.” So if you buy a chocolate muffin and it contains 500 calories, for example, then that’s about 50 minutes of running or an hour of swimming. This definitely isn’t about dieting. It’s about educating the public that when you consume foods, there is an energy cost, so that they can think, ‘Do I really want to spend two hours burning off that chocolate cake? Is the chocolate cake really worth it?’ ”

Prof Daley hopes a large food chain or company will be willing to try the new labels on their products so the system can be given a real life trial.

The Royal Society for Public Health, a partner of PWTAG, would like to see the labelling introduced as soon as possible and says it is a move many consumers would also welcome. It says: “This type of labelling really does put an individual’s calorie consumption in the context of energy expenditure and knowing how out of kilter we can be partly explains the record levels of obesity we face. Small changes can make a big overall difference to calorie consumption, and ultimately weight gain.”

For those of you who make it through Christmas without indulging too much, we look forward to seeing you at SPATEX. There are details on the website, as well the presentations from our own recent annual conference. At SPATEX on Thursday 30 January, we will be staging a pool water seminar picking up on some of the hot topics of the year – hygiene, hot tubs, Brexit, PoolMark, training and much more.

Happy Christmas, see you in the New Year.