15 October 2008: Australian Catholic University (ACU) research into the health of apprentice jockeys has uncovered "compromised bone health" but "superior psychological health".
The findings will be presented at the 17th International Conference of Racing Analysts and Veterinarians from 11 to 17 October in Antalya, Turkey, by Education Lecturer Bob Finlay.
The research was conducted in collaboration with ACU’s Centre of Physical Activity Across the Lifespan (CoPAAL) researcher Dr David Greene.
Dr Greene assessed the bone density of 25 apprentice jockeys in Canberra, Port Macquarie and Tamworth, finding they had “compromised bone health” compared to the average population, even after adjusting for differences in weight and height.
“Apprentice jockeys are certainly engaging in high risk and highly injurious activity,” Dr Greene said. “Couple that with low body weight and, in some cases compromised nutrition, then sadly you have the prospect of suboptimal bone health.” Dr Greene said that to maintain the required weight for racing some apprentice jockeys stopped eating and drinking two days before each race.
The research project also assessed the psychological health of apprentice jockeys and interestingly, apprentice jockeys displayed significantly greater coping skills, resilience, wellbeing, and were less anxious compared to control participants. Dr Greene said, “the apprentice jockeys presented as a highly dedicated and focussed group of individuals with a very clear sense of purpose”.
The researchers have recommended providing apprentice jockeys “further education regarding their dietary habits” and would like to explore the effects of calcium supplementation on bone health in future studies.
“These results are extremely important,” said NSW Racing Training Manager, Mr Maurice Logue.
“Apprentice jockeys are vital to our field, and we want to do all we can to promote their health, wellbeing and career longevity.”
ACU acknowledges the support of Racing NSW in providing access to apprentice jockeys.
Available for interview
Dr. David Greene
School of Exercise Science, North Sydney Campus
View this story online at the Canberra Times online at http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/sport/horse-racing/jockeys-bones-weak-study/1335244.aspx
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