Feb 012012
Authors: Kate Frasure

On July 11, numerous Colorado State University students opened their email accounts to find this message awaiting their reply. Some students immediately trashed it, others questioned its authenticity, and over 1,000 students replied.

Eighty women are now participants in this study to research the effects of a company’s new line of workout apparel. The research compares the new women’s clothing with generic apparel to see if the new line yields better fitness, strength, posture and body composition over a 12-week period.

The results that will help this company, which asked not to be named, decide whether to market the product are in the hands of the Department of Health and Exercise’s students and recent graduates. Testing the apparel are CSU’s own students.

Senior health and exercise science major Hannah Martin is just one of the students who runs the study. From assessing participants every four weeks to overseeing the supervised exercise, Martin will work an average of 35 hours a week.

The exercise study has played a big part in Martin’s career path, who up until now has not had any real jobs that have specifically related to exercise study.

“With many studies you maybe get to do a test once,” she said. “But with this study I actually get to be in the lab, learn how things work and become familiar with exercise studies.”

According to Ray Browning, principal investigator of the study and a professor in the department, the exercise study is an example of applied learning because students are able to practice and apply what they have learned through their courses.

“This is ultimately a way to practice what they are being educated on,” he said. “If you talk to Hannah Martin, it is a terrific opportunity for her to perfect those skills, and she likes being around people. So that is a nice benefit that it is not just pure research where the students are not involved.”

The study has also brought benefits to the CSU community through student participation.

“All of our participants, all 80 people, will come out with a better aerobic capacity,” Browning said. “You, as a participant, are going to leave 12 weeks after you started, healthier than when
you started.”

Participants work out three times a week for 45 minutes on orthotic elliptical machines with the equivalent of a personal trainer like Martin at their side. Then every four weeks, participants receive a comprehensive fitness assessment that tells them their bone density and body-fat percentage, not to mention a nice $250 compensation when they finish the study.

“There’s something for everybody on campus from a research perspective,” Browning said. “This is a research institution. There is a lot of research going on and I think every student needs to recognize that is the kind of institution they have attended and they need to try and immerse themselves in it some way.”

For Martin, who recently has applied for an internship with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., the study is an enjoyable and rewarding experience because she gets to help and work with girls who all have the same goal, to get in shape.

The study is just one example of CSU and the Department of Health and Exercise Science’s commitment to bring learning to the community.

“It’s a tribute to our department that we have the resources to do these kind of experiments and that’s a tribute to the university,” Browning said. “The university is invested in the department in a way that allows us to compete for these kinds of opportunities.”

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