Cycling across the slope of the Mt Gravatt Lookout south of Brisbane, Michael Kakanis – like most elite athletes – can feel when he has reached his maximum heart rate of 198 beats per minute.
Unlike most athletes, however, he knows that maintaining this rate of activity for more than two hours could very well make him sick.
A competitive cyclist who has competed in his fair share of triathlons, Michael’s knowledge of the impact of endurance training goes far beyond that of the regular athlete.
A Bachelor of Sports Science/Bachelor of Health Sciences (Hons) alumnus, he was recently awarded a 2010 Smart Futures PhD Scholarship by the Queensland State Government to commence his PhD studies at Bond’s Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine.
Michael’s research will focus on monitoring the intensity and duration of endurance training and the effect it has on the immune system.
“Salivary immunoglobulin A is known to decrease when the respiratory system is under a lot of stress during strenuous endurance exercise,” he said.
“This impacts on the defence of pathogens, leading to the ‘open window’ theory which states that there is an immune suppression after continuous exercise.”
As part of his research, Michael will be working with a group of elite cyclists exercising for two hours at a time in 15°C and 30°C temperatures. Hourly blood tests will allow him to measure and monitor the resultant immune changes.
“My ultimate goal is to apply the research to developing optimised training programs for hot and humid weather conditions, such as we experience here in Queensland, to help athletes avoid illness as a result of over training.”