Dr Nattai Borges
School of Environmental and Life Sciences
A sporting chance at science
Dr Nattai Borges found the perfect way to combine a love of sport with a fascination for science – and the Central Coast campus is the beneficiary.
It’s not often that you can combine two disparate passions into one career path, but Nattai has managed to achieve just that. With a love for science sparked in early high school, and a life-long sporting background it’s no wonder that Nattai was drawn to Exercise and Sports Science.
“At the time the other potential study options were physiotherapy or medicine, but Exercise and Sports Science was perfect for me,” Nattai says. “I’m glad I found it.”
Nattai practices what he preaches, ensuring he spends time working in industry along with teaching and researching. “This way I can ensure that I never lose the vision of ‘well, this is the science, but how can we apply that science and make it more meaningful to the general population, the athletic population and the disease-state population?”
“I like to bridge the division between the mechanistic ‘bench science’ of exercise physiology and the more translational applied research,” Nattai says. “Human physiology is such a complex and continually interchanging environment. If we ask ‘What causes fatigue during exercise?’ there’s no simple answer.”
Having worked as an accredited exercise physiologist in the muscular-skeletal rehab area, Nattai has an anatomical insight into sports science and the role that exercise plays in wellbeing. “I’ve also worked as a strength and conditioning coach for a number of sporting teams and in private clinics working with young athletes,” Nattai says. “It’s been fun and has given me a really applied background that can help make the theory I’m teaching be more practical for my students. They really respond well to it.”
This has also given Nattai insight into the strength and conditioning and applied sport science areas. “This insight has led me to perform research into understanding match demands of sports such as basketball and cricket and monitoring hydration status in rugby union,” says Nattai.
Ageing and exercise
Exploring the role that exercise plays in maintaining health and fitness as we age is one of Nattai’s research focuses, but one challenge is to accurately measure the impact of physical activity on ageing. “As we get older and busier (during our twenties and thirties!) our levels of physical activity tend to drop, so if we study sedentary older and younger people we’re not really factoring for that drop in physical activity. But if we look at two groups of people who’ve maintained physical activity we gain real insight.”
In his research Nattai’s been comparing master’s athletes with younger athletes to garner a better understanding of what the actual ageing process is, by factoring in the impact of maintaining fitness.
“It’s an emerging field of research at the moment,” Nattai says. “Mainly because there aren’t that many Masters Athletes to work with, and these athletes tend to focus on endurance sports. But what we’ve seen so far shows that if you keep exercising, you can keep performing. It shows the adaptability of the body as you age.”
However, Nattai stresses that we also need to examine the role of nutrition in fitness and ageing. “Older people tend not to digest protein as well, so their ability to synthesise new muscles is impacted. Consuming high-quality protein is also important to help mitigate health risks.”
As we age, there is a decrease in muscle mass known as sarcopenia, especially in our power-based muscle fibres or type-2 muscles fibres. “We need to explore whether we should be focussing on different types of training which maintain our type-2 muscle fibres. We know that endurance training doesn’t help maintain our power-based muscle, we need to focus on resistance training, plyometric training and to also focus on nutrition alongside training.”
Nattai stresses that it’s not just from an exercise perspective that we need to focus on muscle mass as we age – it’s also important from a quality-of-life perspective: “Muscles are one of our largest organs and one of the most important,” Nattai says. “We’re only starting to scratch the surface in terms of the signalling role that muscles play with hormones and the maintenance of our muscle mass.”
Acting local, thinking global
Working with Central Coast sporting groups is just one of the ways that Nattai is looking to connect his research with locals. “I bring the lessons learned from playing in team sports into all aspects of my life,” Nattai says.
“I’m aiming to work with local sporting teams here on the central coast to help bring the knowledge from the University into our sporting clubs,” says Nattai who’s currently playing with the local Avoca FC.
Exploring the link between fitness and wellbeing is also on Nattai’s radar, and he’s actively seeking industry collaborations to apply his research in the field. “An emerging theme in research is the role that exercise can play in managing the symptoms and side-effects of cancer. Research seems to indicate that there are some potential benefits of combining certain types of exercise with treatment – and it’s an area I’d like to explore.”
A proficient science communicator, Nattai has already received an International accolade for his oral presentation skills while undertaking his PhD. “In 2016 I won a prestigious international award at the European Congress of Sports Scientist,” Nattai proudly states. “I was selected in the top 4 before being asked to perform before the whole congress where I was awarded the Young Investigators Award.”
At this congress in Vienna, Nattai spoke to global professionals about one of his PhD projects which researched the effects of age on pulmonary and muscular oxygenation following high intensity training. And Nattai feels that his work in this space hasn’t concluded now he’s been awarded his PhD. “I’d love to keep developing the work I did in my PhD and explore healthy ageing and exercise and the benefits for the ageing Australian population.”
Nattai has recently graduated from his doctoral studies investigating the influence of age on fatigue and recovery in cyclists where he created several testing protocols to holistically monitor the fatigue state and recovery in his testing participants. Nattai has also acquired substantial clinical and sports industry experience both in Australia and Overseas over the past 10 years which has given him a broad perspective in the areas of exercise prescription, programming and sport science. Nattai has been an Accredited Exercise Physiologist since 2010 with experience working in return to work programs as well as a strength and conditioning coach in both private clinics and for established rugby and football teams. Currently, Nattai’s research mainly revolves around investigating the physiological basis fatigue and recovery as well as understanding the match demands for team sports in an attempt to improve health and performance. Nattai has a strong publication record, has presented at a number of national and international conferences and was recently awarded the 2016 European College of Sport Sciences prestigious Young Investigator Award for his research into the influence of age on fatigue states in cyclists. Nattai would like to continue his current research in fatigue and recovery by investigation causative mechanisms of fatigue as well as novel techniques to improve recovery without attenuating training adaptation.
- Doctor of Philosophy, Central Queensland University
- Bachelor of Applied Science, University of Sydney
- English (Mother)
- Portuguese (Fluent)
- Spanish (Working)
Fields of Research
|Title||Organisation / Department|
|Lecturer||University of Newcastle
School of Environmental and Life Sciences
Young Investigator Award
European College of Sports Science
|Year||Title / Rationale|
|2016||Masters Athletes and Exercise and Sport Science in Australia|
|2016||The Effect of Age on Pulmonary and Muscle Oxygenation Kinetics Following High-Intensity Interval Training|
Growth, Development and Ageing
The University of Newcastle
|Course Coordinator||1/07/2016 - 30/12/2016|
|Course Coordinator||31/01/2016 - 30/06/2016|
Advanced Exercise Physiology
Univeristy of Newcastle
|Course Coordinator||31/12/2015 - 30/06/2017|
For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.
Chapter (1 outputs)
|2015||Reaburn P, Doering TM, Borges NR, 'Nutritional issues for the masters athlete', Clinical Sports Nutrition, McGraw-Hill Education Australia, New South Wales, Australia (2015)|
Journal article (17 outputs)
Borges NR, Reaburn PR, Doering TM, Argus CK, Driller MW, 'Autonomic cardiovascular modulation in masters and young cyclists following high-intensity interval training', CLINICAL AUTONOMIC RESEARCH, 27 83-90 (2017) [C1]
Scanlan AT, Richter-Stretton GL, Madueno MC, Borges NR, Fenning AS, 'Reliability of a Cryoscopic Micro-Osmometer Using 15-mu L Plasma Samples to Measure Hydration Status in Varied Environmental Conditions', MEASUREMENT IN PHYSICAL EDUCATION AND EXERCISE SCIENCE, 21 34-39 (2017) [C1]
Scanlan AT, Fox JL, Borges NR, Delextrat A, Spiteri T, Dalbo VJ, et al., 'Decrements in knee extensor and flexor strength are associated with performance fatigue during simulated basketball game-play in adolescent, male players.', J Sports Sci, 1-9 (2017)
|2017||Borges NR, Doering TM, Reaburn PR, Scanlan AT, 'HYDRATION STATUS OF RUGBY UNION PLAYERS IN HOT AND HUMID CONDITIONS: A COMPARATIVE TEAM CASE STUDY OF DAY AND NIGHT TRAINING SESSIONS', SOUTH AFRICAN JOURNAL FOR RESEARCH IN SPORT PHYSICAL EDUCATION AND RECREATION, 39 21-31 (2017) [C1]|
Scanlan AT, Fox JL, Borges NR, Dascombe BJ, Dalbo VJ, 'Cumulative Training Dose's Effects on Interrelationships Between Common Training-Load Models During Basketball Activity', INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF SPORTS PHYSIOLOGY AND PERFORMANCE, 12 168-174 (2017) [C1]
Scanlan AT, Fox JL, Borges NR, Tucker PS, Dalbo VJ, 'Temporal changes in physiological and performance responses across game-specific simulated basketball activity', Journal of Sport and Health Science, (2015)
Â© 2016. Purpose: The aims of this study were to: (1) provide a comprehensive physiological profile of simulated basketball activity and (2) identify temporal changes in player re... [more]
Â© 2016. Purpose: The aims of this study were to: (1) provide a comprehensive physiological profile of simulated basketball activity and (2) identify temporal changes in player responses in controlled settings. Methods: State-level male basketball players (n = 10) completed 4 Ã 10 min simulated quarters of basketball activity using a reliable and valid court-based test. A range of physiological (ratings of perceived exertion, blood lactate concentration ([BLa - ]), blood glucose concentration ([BGlu] ), heart rate (HR), and hydration) and physical (performance and fatigue indicators for sprint, circuit, and jump activity) measures were collected across testing. Results: Significantly reduced [BLa - ] (6.19 Â± 2.30 vs. 4.57 Â± 2.33 mmol/L; p = 0.016) and [BGlu] (6.91 Â± 1.57 vs. 5.25 Â± 0.81 mmol/L; p = 0.009) were evident in the second half. A mean HR of 180.1 Â± 5.7 beats/min (90.8% Â± 4.0% HR max ) was observed, with a significant increase in vigorous activity (77%-95% HR max ) (11.31 Â± 6.91 vs. 13.50 Â± 6.75 min; p = 0.024) and moderate decrease in near-maximal activity ( > 95% HR max ) (7.24 Â± 7.45 vs. 5.01 Â± 7.20 min) in the second half. Small increases in performance times accompanied by a significantly lower circuit decrement (11.67% Â± 5.55% vs. 7.30% Â± 2.16%; p = 0.032) were apparent in the second half. Conclusion: These data indicate basketball activity imposes higher physiological demands than previously thought and temporal changes in responses might be due to adapted pacing strategies as well as fatigue-mediated mechanisms.
Scanlan AT, Wen N, Tucker PS, Borges NR, Dalbo VJ, 'Training Mode's Influence on the Relationships Between Training-Load Models During Basketball Conditioning', INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF SPORTS PHYSIOLOGY AND PERFORMANCE, 9 851-856 (2014)
|Show 14 more journal articles|
Conference (6 outputs)
Dalbo VJ, Fox JL, Borges NR, Dascombe BJ, Young KC, Scanlan AT, 'Cumulative Training Dose Augments The Interrelationships Between Common Training Load Models During Basketball Activity: 1601 Board #254 June 2, 9: 00 AM - 10: 30 AM.', Medicine and science in sports and exercise (2016)
Doering TM, Reaburn P, Borges NR, Jenkins D, 'No difference in muscle damage between well-trained masters and young triathletes following regular intense endurance exercise', No difference in muscle damage between well-trained masters and young triathletes following regular intense endurance exercise, Gold Coast, Qld (2016)
|2016||Borges NR, Reaburn P, Doering TM, Argus C, Driller M, 'The effect of age on autonomic cardiovascular modulation following repeated high intensity interval cycling', Melbourne, Australia (2016)|
|Show 3 more conferences|