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Robert Chapman
IU School of Public Health-Bloomington

Jeanne Johnston
IU School of Public Health-Bloomington

Tracy James
IU Communications

Charles Rondot
IU School of Public Health-Bloomington

Last modified: Friday, May 31, 2013

Indiana University research presented at the American College of Sports Medicine meeting

May 31, 2013

More than 55 researchers from Indiana University Bloomington, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and the Indiana University School of Medicine are participating in the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Indianapolis on May 28 to June 1.

Below is a sample of the research discussed:

Elite athletes often shine sooner or later -- but not both
Differences in arterial health seen in 20-somethings, too
Simple program helped people sit less, lose weight

Elite athletes often shine sooner or later -- but not both


Collegiate athletes at Indiana University

An Indiana University study that compared the performance of elite track and field athletes younger than 20 and those 20 and older found that only a minority of the star junior athletes saw similar success as senior athletes.

The researchers think physical maturation is behind the disparity, with athletes who mature early reaping the benefits early, seeing their best times, jumps and throws at a younger age than Olympians, many of whom mature later.

"You see it in a lot of sports," said Robert Chapman, assistant professor in the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington and a former cross country coach at IU. "Elite performers in senior sports tend to be the ones who mature later. But it's hard to measure, particularly in men, the rate at which they mature. I had a very successful runner grow 4 inches in college while he ran for me."

The study, led by Joshua Foss, a graduate student in exercise physiology, and co-authored by Chapman, examined the career performance of 65 male finalists and 64 female finalists of the 2000 Junior World Championships and a comparable number of finalists at the 2000 Olympics. They analyzed competition data for the junior athletes from the 12 years after the 2000 Junior World Championships and at least 12 years of data for the senior athletes from before and after the 2000 Olympics. The athletes were finalists in the 100-, 200-, 1,500- and 5,000-meter races, long jump, high jump, discus throw and shot put.

Here are some of the findings:

  • Senior athletes performed best at a significantly later age than their junior counterparts in all four men's event groups and three of four women's event groups.
  • Compared to the star junior athletes, the senior athletes showed a significantly greater percentage of improvement in lifetime best performance compared to their best performances as junior athletes in six of eight groups.
  • 23.6 percent of the junior athletes studied went on to medal in the Olympics.
  • 29.9 percent of the Olympians studied won medals earlier in their career while competing in the Junior World Championships.

Variability in maturation rates and potential differences in performance as athletes age can pose a challenge for recruiting coaches. Coaches anecdotally have known this was an issue, Chapman said, but the IU study bolsters it with data. He said the findings also are relevant in light of how sports organizations and national sport governing bodies budget their limited funds. Focusing their spending on junior athletes will not necessarily result in Olympic champions as the juniors age.

Foss will discuss his findings during a poster presentation from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Friday, May 31, in Hall C.

Chapman also is associate director of sport science and medicine for USA Track and Field. He can be reached at 812-856-2452 or For additional assistance, or for a copy of the research poster, contact Tracy James at 812-855-0084 or Top

Study: Difference in arterial health seen in highly active college-age people compared to inactive peers

Indiana University researchers found that people in their 20s already began to demonstrate arterial stiffening -- when arteries become less compliant as blood pumps through the body -- but their highly active peers did not.

The researchers made a similar discovery with middle-age men and women, finding that highly active study participants did not show the arterial stiffening that typically comes with aging, regardless of their gender or age. A reduction in compliance of the body's arteries is considered a risk factor, predictive of future cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure and stroke. This new study is the first to examine arterial stiffening in a young, healthy population.

"It was surprising," said Joel Stager, professor in the Department of Kinesiology in the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington. "The college-age group, which reflected the general population, already showed a difference in the health of their small arteries. Compliance of the small arteries, in particular, is seen as an effective predictor of future cardiovascular disease."

The researchers looked at compliance of large and small arteries. For the middle-aged study participants, typical stiffening was seen in both types of arteries for those who were inactive and moderately active, but not for the highly active. In the younger groups, the stiffening was seen only in the smaller arteries for the less active group.

"This indicates that the effect of exercise reported for aging populations seems to exist in young populations as well," the researchers wrote in their report. "That small artery compliance is low in the less active young population should be of general concern, as low small arterial compliance is recognized as an index of cardiovascular risk."

Findings from "Arterial Compliance in a Young Population" were discussed during a poster presentation on Wednesday. Co-authors are Christopher Mattson, Maleah Holland and Eric Ress, researchers at the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington. Findings from "Small and Large Arterial Stiffness and Aging in Highly Active People" also were discussed during a poster presentation on Wednesday. Co-author is Holland.

Stager can be reached at 812-855-1637 or For additional assistance, contact Tracy James at 812-855-0084 or Top

Study: Pedometer program helps motivate participants to sit less, move more

Indiana University researchers found that a simple program that uses pedometers to monitor how much people move throughout the day was effective at increasing physical activity, decreasing sitting time -- a particular problem for office workers -- and helping participants drop some pounds. "Even if somebody works out 30 minutes a day, the fact that they're sitting and not moving for long periods of time for the rest of the day is in and of itself detrimental to their health and well-being, physiologically," said Saurabh S. Thosar, an associate instructor at the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington and one of the study's researchers.

The study was the first to use pedometers to monitor and reduce sitting time and the first to examine the amount of physical activity versus structured exercise people experience throughout the day.

Four men and 22 women between the ages of 40 and 66 completed a 12-week program in which participants wore a pedometer every day and received emails twice a week offering nutritional and exercise tips.

The pedometer, called an Omron, monitors physical activity, which accounts for any type of movement involving the lower legs. The pedometer, which costs about $30 and can be carried in a backpack or pocket, also allows people to hook it up to a computer and look at a graph of the amount of steps taken as a function of time.

The participants were also encouraged to be active during the hours for which they had zero steps, such as when they watched TV or worked at a desk, and to download the data from the pedometers once a week.

The researchers found a significant decrease in sitting time and a significant increase in physical activity as a result of the program. The mean weight of participants dropped by almost 2.5 pounds.

"This is a very simple intervention that can reach a large number of people at a low cost," said Jeanne Johnston, co-author of the study and clinical associate professor in the School of Public Health's Department of Kinesiology. "As companies and communities develop programs to increase physical activity and positively impact health parameters such as weight, there is a need to think of the associated costs."

Johnston presented the findings of this study, "Multifaceted pedometer program results in favorable changes in sitting time, physical activity, and weight," during a poster presentation Thursday, May 30. Co-authors include Sylvanna Bielko, adjunct lecturer in the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington's Department of Kinesiology.

Johnston can be reached at 812-855-5073 or For additional assistance, contact Tracy James at 812-855-0084 and Tweeting @Vitality_IU, with more news from IU at #IUNews; blogging Health & Vitality. Top