A donation from a former La Trobe University teacher has helped launch a new research initiative at the Bendigo campus.
Bendigo resident Bill Holsworth and his wife Carol made the donation to help establish research that will focus on the rates of insufficient physical activity in rural and regional Australians.
The La Trobe Holsworth Research Initiative will build on the university's current physiology and physical activity research with a view to improve people's activity levels and improve physical function and performance.
Initiative director Michael Kingsley said the funding - which will support the research for five years - was an amazing opportunity.
"Long term funding is incredibly important. Outputs from research take a while. In essence, the longer the funding, the more research opportunities we have," he said. "Generally projects take between one and four years to produce results.
"It allows us to build and undertake some meaningful research in the next five years.
"This research looks at building on the strengths we have in (the university's) exercise and physical activity and rehabilitation research.
"We're looking to utilise this funding to develop those strengths, and really look at the research to improve the function and performance of individuals (ranging from) people with chronic disease through to high-performance athletes."
Dr Holsworth, who taught at La Trobe University Bendigo for 10 years, is a renowned ecologist, mammologist and wildlife biologist. He and Mrs Holsworth have supported academic research causes for more than 30 years.
They said they wanted their donation to support rural activity and research.
"It's easy to give money in Melbourne where there's large research grants and research projects but it's difficult in (places like) Bendigo," Dr Holsworth said.
"I taught at the university in Bendigo for 10 years and know the difficulty of attracting students and research money. So when I retired we decided to support Bendigo particularly for its rural location and non-metropolitan students.
"When I started here there was around 2500 students and no departments were big enough to support senior or significant research. We just taught and research was difficult to get going because of the small number of students and staff.
"Now that numbers have gone up considerably, it's possible to have good research projects that applies to rural environments."
Dr Holsworth said the research that would come from the initiative could be applied internationally.
"Everybody has to exercise in one way or another," he said. "It's a project with potential application right around the world."
Professor Kingsley said only 15 per cent of Australian adults meet the current Australian physical activity and muscle strengthening guidelines.
"We're trying to motivate people to become more active and get the benefits of physical exercise and activity," he said.
"One of the obstacles in (the Bendigo) region is capacity and less opportunities for individuals to undertake this research. We're trying to motivate people to become more active and get the benefits of physical exercise and activity.
"Obviously this research will allow (the initiative) to become self-sustaining, so that with this income we can draw in more competitive funding and keep this research going."
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