Sports scientists at Heriot-Watt install DXA scanner to study changes in body composition

A Hologic Horizon A DXA scanner has been supplied and installed by Vertec Scientific for Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, in its new sport and exercise science department at Oriam, Scotland’s national sports performance centre.

The scanner will be used with Oriam’s partners for sport and exercise science research and to monitor the health of athletes. Associate professor in sport and exercise physiology at Heriot-Watt University’s School of Energy, Geosciences, Infrastructure and Society Dr Fergus Guppy said: “The DXA scanner is pretty invaluable for the research I do. If we want to understand changes in body composition, fat mass and muscle mass in response to interventions, then we need to be able to measure that as accurately as we can. But it also gives us skeletal health, particularly in female athletes, which is something we are focusing on developing here as part of the new sport and exercise science academic team.”

Dr Guppy said the drive for leanness among female athletes could cause changes in bone health and body composition, with some adverse effects on musculoskeletal health.

“We are trying to move away from just using the DXA scanner for performance metrics and use it as a health monitoring tool in athletes, to prevent illness and injury,” he added.

Oriam opened in 2016 to provide Scotland’s top sports people with the facilities, access and support services pivotal for international success. It is used as a training facility by professional sporting partners including Scottish Rugby, the Scottish Football Association, Heart of Midlothian Football Club, Netball Scotland and Scottish Squash.

Picture: Laboratory technician Finlay Wright, senior laboratory technician Russell Wilson, associate professor in sport and exercise physiology Dr Fergus Guppy and assistant professor in exercise physiology Dr Hannah Lithgow.

Published on page 8 of the January 2024 issue of RAD Magazine.

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