Triathlon festival tracks mental benefits

Triathlon star Ashleigh Gentle is supporting a tech study of mental health benefits of exercise.
Triathlon star Ashleigh Gentle is supporting a tech study of mental health benefits of exercise.

Staring at a phone is an odd recommendation when it comes to improving a person's mental health.

But that's exactly what global shoe and clothing manufacture ASICS will be asking the 9000-odd competitors to do at this weekend's Noosa Triathlon Festival.

The Mind Uplifter application, designed in partnership with bioinformatics experts in San Francisco, will be launched in Australia as part of a worldwide study into the impact of movement on the mind.

Users can scan a QR code on one of the human "walking billboards" that will be on-site, then scan their own face and answer some simple questions.

After at least 20 minutes of exercise users repeat the steps and the application will measure the uplift in state of mind, based on metrics like confidence, positivity, calm and focus.

The initial study that underpinned the application's development followed 42 elite and everyday athletes and found increases in contentment (14.4 per cent), energy (9.7) and relaxation (13.3) immediately after exercise.

Seven-time Noosa Triathlon champion Ashleigh Gentle has been using it in recent weeks and can see obvious benefits for those struggling to break bad habits formed amid coronavirus restrictions.

"People have been stuck inside for so long now, it might be hard to crack that and motivate yourself," she said.

"So if this is a tool that can help that it's worthwhile.

"When you're in the right mental state it's amazing how much better your performance can be and it can validate the fact that exercise can help you."

The Festival begins on Friday with the Garth Proud Ride and Noosa 1000 Ocean Swim, before the men's and women's Australian Open criterium cycling and ASICS Noosa Bolt on Saturday and the men's and women's Noosa Triathlon races on Sunday.

Australian Associated Press