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Kinesiology Faculty Member and Students Announce Results of Energy Expenditure Study

RELEASED: May 17, 2006

exercising photoEAU CLAIRE — A University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire faculty member and several student researchers in the department of kinesiology are excited about the results of a 12-week fitness study they began conducting in February.

The study, led by assistant professor of kinesiology Lance Dalleck, began by measuring health and fitness indicators such as blood pressure, aerobic fitness, cholesterol and body composition in 30 women volunteers between the ages of 18 and 45. The researchers then worked with the women to design exercise regimens that would burn approximately 1,000 calories per week — the amount recommended as necessary for gaining significant health benefits by authorities such as the U.S. Surgeon General, the American College of Sports Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Project goals included studying fitness using women subjects, a group often underrepresented in fitness studies; challenging the appropriateness of current fitness recommendations, which Dalleck said should be more specifically targeted according to age and body size; and allowing student researchers to see the concepts they study put into practice with real people.

While only 15 of the 30 volunteers completed the study, those who did follow through exercised approximately three hours per week, mostly by walking on a track or treadmill, Dalleck said. They returned to campus weekly for interviews and fitness testing.

"A major conclusion of the study was that the current standard recommendation is indeed extremely effective," Dalleck said.

All 15 women gained what Dalleck described as "significant" health benefits from that three-hour weekly investment after just 10 weeks of training.

On average, the women showed a 10 percent reduction in blood pressure; a 7 percent improvement in aerobic fitness, measured by the woman's ability to take in and use oxygen; and a 6 percent improvement in HDL or good cholesterol, which Dalleck said translates to a 20 percent reduction in risk for heart disease. Although weight loss was not a focus of the study, most of the women lost about 1.5 pounds, he said, adding that the women changed their overall body composition for the better, achieving approximately a 5 percent reduction in body fat.

"Watching these women improve and become more active individuals definitely outweighed the negatives of having to wake up at 5 a.m. three times a week" said junior Erica Borresen, North Mankato, Minn., a student researcher who worked with Dalleck on the study.

"It was a great experience to enhance my education through a hands-on experience and to reach out to the community in an unusual way," Borresen said. "The participants were wonderful — they came with a great attitude and it was great to see the improvements they made throughout the three months. I hope they all will continue this active lifestyle."

Sophomore Jeanna Wallenta, Lake Lillian, Minn., agreed the experience was valuable.

"Performing fitness assessments, learning professional procedures, putting classroom material into action and meeting interesting people all stemmed from this research experience," Wallenta said.

Dalleck was gratified that the research proved his point about individual targeting.

"The study results confirm that a larger person will automatically burn more calories if they exercise the same amount of time as a smaller, lighter person, but to get the same health benefits, they have to burn even more calories," said Dalleck, noting that the information can help fitness and health professionals develop more realistic and individualized fitness programs and goals for their clients.

Dalleck and the students now will try to get their research findings published in a publication such as the Journal of Women's Health.

In April, the researchers presented their results at the American College of Sports Medicine's regional conference in St. Cloud, Minn. Next year, they hope to present at a national conference.

UW-Eau Claire's Office of Research and Sponsored Programs assisted with funding for the study and with conference travel costs for the researchers.

Dalleck will replicate the study this fall using post-menopausal women as the subject group so researchers can compare results for women at different stages in their lives.

Anyone interested in participating in the fall study should contact Dalleck at (715) 836-3774 or dalleclc@uwec.edu.

-30-

NW/JB

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