Interview Prof. Dr. Lars Donath

Rights: Lars Donath

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Interview with Prof. Dr. Lars Donath from the German Sport University Cologne 

The German Sport University Cologne is Germany's only and Europe's largest university in the field of sports science. Prof. Dr. Lars Donath is head of the Department of Training Science Intervention Research at the Institute for Training Science and Sports Informatics at the German Sport University Cologne. The Dividat Senso was integrated in a recently published study and Prof. Dr. Donath gives us a short insight into his research.

(Link to study)


Good afternoon Prof. Dr. Donath. Thank you very much for taking the time for this interview. What are your main research areas? 

We look at acute and chronic adaptations to physical training over the entire life span. We look at how strength, balance and endurance develop and how we can positively influence them in terms of optimal athletic performance or the maintenance/restoration of quality of life. For this purpose, we measure, for example, muscle activity, muscle cross sections, maximum and rapid strength, or use different training concepts and check their effects or effectiveness.

Among other things, you deal with "agility-based" training approaches for seniors. What are "agility-based" training approaches? 

The agility concept is known from team sports. It essentially describes the testing and training of multi directional action ability in sports or everyday settings. Basically, it includes orientation in space, starting and braking, and various force (reactive and fast) and balance components (static, dynamic). By incorporating these factors in an increasingly complex way, athletes and seniors can be trained with specific exercises that they can then implement in everyday life. This is important because we have few transfer effects from a trained exercise to an untrained exercise. For this reason, we have to detect "key-motions" and test and train them specifically. This can be different in the context of fall prevention compared to football or ice hockey.

What role does balance training play in falls prevention for seniors?

Balance and strength play a special role. Surveys by Cathie Sherrington from Sydney have shown that demanding and varied balance training can reduce falls by up to 50%. On average, however, the reduction is only 20%. The high reductions occur when the training is challenging and carried out for around 3 hours per week. Strength training, on the other hand, promotes the maintenance of muscle mass and strength. The reduction from the 5th decade of life onward is enormous. Especially with respect to strength. This can go up to 4% per year. Therefore, we should always keep strength in mind.

You have recently published a study. Can you describe it to us? What was your goal and what results did you get?

We combined two systems in a training study. The Dividat Senso and the Posturomed. The background was that we wanted to make virtual games from Dividat more difficult under unstable conditions. And we succeeded in doing that. The stress was higher for seniors compared to stable Senso conditions..., but this effect washed out after 8 weeks. This means that we have to offer and develop games with increasing, attractive and challenging possibilities for continuous improvement. These games can also depict everyday scenarios, thus possibly also cause adaptations relevant to everyday life.

What were the motives for integrating the Dividat Senso into the study?

Virtual training scenarios are appealing and can be easily controlled and dosed. This makes sense for all age groups. However, we wanted to take the Senso as SensoSwing to the next evolutionary stage in order to be able to offer variation and progression in training with the Senso.

Many thanks for the interview!