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Latest Faculty/Student Exercise Intervention Study Shows Surprising Results

RELEASED: May 15, 2007

EAU CLAIRE — Assistant professor of kinesiology Lance Dalleck and a team of student researchers have conducted a number of fitness studies over the past several years, but according to Dalleck, the most recent one, conducted with menopausal women aged 45-75, yielded some of the most exciting results yet.

The group started with 21 volunteers aged 52-74, with an average age of 58, and of those, 16 actually completed the entire program. The volunteers were divided into two groups, with one group exercising for 30 minutes at a time, and the other group exercising for 45 minutes each time. Dalleck's students supervised the exercise programs at the university's indoor track every weekday morning for 12 weeks. The women were monitored for blood pressure, aerobic or cardiovascular fitness, cholesterol and changes in body composition.

The most significant changes were in cardiovascular fitness and body fat composition. The group of women who exercised for 30 minutes five days a week showed a 10 percent increase in cardiovascular fitness and 2 percent decrease in body fat. But the women who added only 15 more minutes to their routine showed a 30 percent increase in cardiovascular fitness and a 5 percent decrease in body fat.

"This time, the biggest surprise was in what a difference just a little more time invested could make in the overall results," Dalleck said, noting that for an extra 15 minutes per session — half again as much as the other group — the women got almost triple the health benefits.

"Cardiovascular fitness is a really important health outcome," Dalleck said. "It has been shown to be a better predictor of longevity than heredity, not smoking, hypertension and other risk factors usually cited as important in improving health."

Freshman Sondra De Lap, De Forest, and junior Mary Erickson, Lindstrom, Minn., were two of the students who participated in the study.

De Lap said she thought it was interesting that the participants could actually see the increase in health benefits they could obtain from doing 6 to 7 laps around the track instead of just 4 or 5.

"I really liked putting the theory we learn in class into practice and being there to answer questions for the women in the study," said Erickson.

The series of exercise intervention studies Dalleck and his students have conducted also have been providing other opportunities for the students to experience the professional world of health and fitness. An earlier study that Dalleck and his students conducted with pre-menopausal women has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (2007) and senior Erica Borresen, North Mankato, Minn., and junior Jeanna Wallenta, Lake Lillian, Minn., received a first place award for their research paper summarizing that study at the Northland American College of Sports Medicine Spring Tutorial Meeting March 30.

Dalleck and his students receive support for their studies from UW-Eau Claire's Office of Research and Sponsored Programs and presented a poster about their study at the annual Student Research Day in April. They say they would like their next study to involve children, another group not often studied.

For more information, contact Dalleck at 715-836-3774 or dalleclc@uwec.edu.

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