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Indiana University research at the American College of Sports Medicine annual conference

May 27, 2008

EDITORS: More than 40 faculty and students from Indiana University campuses in Bloomington and Indianapolis, including IU's School of Medicine, will participate in approximately 35 poster presentations, symposia and clinical workshops at the annual conference of the American College of Sports Medicine, May 28-31, in Indianapolis. Below is a sampling of the research to be presented. For help reaching these researchers, contact Tracy James, 812-855-0084 and Information about the studies is embargoed until the time of their presentations.

These studies discuss the following topics:

Identifying risks for life-threatening falls
College students and heart disease
Physical activity's relationship with mood
Challenges posed by sedentary jobs
Weight loss and contact with healthcare professionals

Balance Training

Balance exercises might need to target the brain in addition to muscles.

Print-Quality Photo

Screening for the risk of life-threatening falls? A study by Indiana University researchers found a strong connection between the cognitive function of their elderly study participants and their postural stability -- or balance. The study, which is in line with recent findings by other researchers involving the brain and balance, also found a brief questionnaire designed to probe cognitive function effective at identifying people with poorer balance. Falls are one of the most common causes of injury and death among the elderly. Motor control experts at Indiana University's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation are searching for a way to alert the elderly to when they become more at risk for falls before the falls occur -- ideally developing a screening technique that can be conducted by physicians or other health care providers. Koichi Kitano, a doctoral student in the School of HPER's Department of Kinesiology and lead author of the study, said the questionnaire used for their study could be conducted and scored by physicians and possibly other health care professionals. Patients could complete the questionnaire in around 15 minutes. "It's an accessible, easy tool to identify people with risk," he said. Kitano said IU researchers want to continue their research with larger numbers of people and more diverse populations -- the current study involved 28 residents ranging in age from 80 to 90. Researchers at the School of HPER are also looking into stretches and exercises that could help the elderly improve their balance. Kitano said, however, that cognitive exercises might be even more effective. To read more about their efforts, visit and

Kitano will be available to discuss the study, titled, "Cognitive function and postural sway among the elderly," on Thursday, May 29, from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in Hall B. Information about the study is embargoed until this time. Coauthors are Tammy M. Nichols, Rachel A. Britton, David B. Pisoni and David M. Koceja, all from IU Bloomington. Kitano can be reached at Top

Heart disease does not develop overnight. An Indiana University study involving college freshmen found that almost half of the students had at least two risk factors for heart disease. The study, led by Cameron L. Troxell, a graduate student in the IU Bloomington School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, involved 101 male and female college freshmen who answered a questionnaire designed to help researchers gauge the students' perceptions of their own health compared to the actual measurements. The study found that 30 percent of the students had high cholesterol, compared to 4 percent who self-reported this risk factor. "A lot of the students were very surprised that they had high cholesterol," said co-author Jeanne Johnston, assistant professor in the School of HPER's Department of Kinesiology. "It really hit home that they need to start thinking about their healthy habits and behaviors." Johnston said the college-age population is an understudied age group but an important age group, because of the independence that occurs during this critical transition period and the potential for developing lifelong healthy habits.

Troxell will be available to discuss her study, titled "Self-reported v. actual health status of first-year college students," on Friday, May 30, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. in Hall B. Information about the study is embargoed until this time. Coauthors include Carol Kennedy-Armbruster, Amy Diullo, Whitney Hornsby and Kelly Pfaffenberger, all from IU Bloomington. Troxell can be reached a Johnston can be reached at 812-855-5073 and Top

Mood and movement. A unique study by Indiana University researchers found that physical activity throughout the day -- simply moving -- is related to positive feelings, but they found no similar relationship between physical activity and negative moods. "In the study, if people are more active, they tend to report a more positive mood," said Bryan McCormick, associate professor in IU Bloomington's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. "Really low levels of activity are related to lower levels of positive affect." Physical activity was considered movement beyond resting -- not formal exercise. "People often see physical activity as having to be exercise, but it doesn't have to be exercise," McCormick said. "Physical activity beyond a resting state does appear to be related to mood."

  • Background: The study is unique because it tracks moment-by-moment physical activity throughout the day and compares it to reports study participants make throughout the day of their activities and feelings. The 25 study participants wore uniaxial accelerometers during waking hours for seven days so their physical activity could be recorded. They also wore wristwatches with preprogrammed alarms that signaled them seven times per day during this period so they could fill out brief reports. If they responded more than 20 minutes after the alarm, their report was disregarded in order to eliminate the ambiguity of "recall." Most studies involving mood and physical activity rely on recall, and compare it to overall physical activity levels, not moment-by-moment activity. "Most research distinguishes between positive and negative mood," McCormick said. "In our study, the moment-by-moment activity is related to positive mood -- but not related to negative mood state."

Physical activity and exercise is drawing more attention as a possible way to influence mild depression. "In some ways, it might treat mild depression in that it increases our positive feelings, but it doesn't necessarily take away our negative feelings," McCormick said. This study is part of a larger research project involving adults with serious mental illness. McCormick, an associate professor in the School of HPER's Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Studies, is collaborating with Georgia Frey, associate professor in the School of HPER's Department of Kinesiology and lead author of this mood and physical activity study. "The results of this study were modest and based on a relatively small sample," she said, "but the findings are encouraging." The study participants represented a general population, not a clinical population.

Frey will be available to discuss the study on Friday from 2 to 3:30 p.m. in Hall B. Information about the study is embargoed until this time. Coauthors include Chien-Tsung Lee and Yong-Kyeom Yoo, also from IU Bloomington. Frey can be reached at 812-855-1262 and McCormick can be reached at 812-855-348 Top


Pitching the battle of the bulge at work. The workplace, in addition to being a place for making money, has the potential for making a dent in Americans' struggles with obesity, according to Indiana University researchers. A study led by Whitney E. Hornsby, a graduate student in IU Bloomington's School of Health Physical Education and Recreation, examined weight and activity levels of 56 people ages 23 to 61 who worked desk jobs. The study found that 80 percent of the employees were overweight or obese, which is higher than the general population, and the employees also reported a lower quality of life than the general population. "Obesity rates have increased while leisure time has stayed the same or increased," said Jeanne Johnston, assistant professor in the School of HPER's Department of Kinesiology. "We're becoming more sedentary in our jobs. As technology improves, it makes it easier or requires us to be closer to our desks."

  • Background: The study, says Johnston, a co-author, is part of the IU researchers' efforts to use the workplace to stimulate healthier behaviors. She said employee wellness programs typically come in two forms -- they make available an on-site fitness facility that typically is rarely used, or they make available health and wellness assessments without the resources to help employees implement the recommended changes. The IU researchers are studying a behavioral change program designed to increase employees' activity levels to the light and moderate range, rather than launching them into a full-scale workout regimen. "The transition is really important, getting to where people are in their stage of exercise and moving them along the continuum," Johnston said. "I'm a big believer that we need to help people move from being sedentary to being active, where they can see the results. Then, they might be motivated to join a fitness facility."

Hornsby will be available to discuss the study, titled "Health, physical activity and quality of life in a worksite population," on Saturday, May 31, from 8 to 9:30 a.m. in Hall B. Information about this study is embargoed until this time. Coauthors include Kenneth A. Glover and Joel M. Stager, also from IU Bloomington. The study was partially funded by CSX Transportation. Hornsby can be reached at Johnston can be reached at 812-855-5073 and Top

Weight loss and patient contact frequency. Past research has found that patients enrolled in weight-management programs experience greater success as the frequency they meet with physicians or weight-loss counselors about their progress increases. The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, an organization that recommends guidelines for primary care in the U.S, classifies two provider contacts with patients as intensive. A study by NiCole Keith, associate professor in the Department of Physical Education at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis, found that this current recommendation may not be intensive enough for low-income and disadvantaged populations.

  • Background: Her study was conducted in an urban community health center in Indianapolis that primarily serves low-income and disadvantaged populations. The weight-management program, Take Charge Lite (TCL), was free to patients, funded by the Fairbanks Foundation and available to all patients 18 or older with a body mass index indicating they could be overweight or obese -- equal to or above 25. The program was developed for English or Spanish-speaking patients and used input from physicians, administrators and patients of the clinic. If patients qualified, their physician gave them information about TCL and the program coach's contact information. Once a patient phoned, a first visit was arranged at which the patient chose goals, weighed-in, and discussed different weight-loss strategies with the coach. Program participants could attend support groups, education or exercise classes, meet face-to-face with coaches, or have regular weigh-ins. Each of these activities qualified as a contact.

At the end of the program's first year, the relationship between weight loss and number of contacts was evaluated. Patients with two or fewer contacts per month gained about a pound. Patients with three or four contacts per month lost about two pounds of weight and patients who had five contacts per month lost just over two pounds. Those with six or more contacts lost about five pounds and patients with more than 11 contacts per month lost about six pounds. Keith said the program will continue and that she's optimistic about its impact. "TCL coaches helped patients find strategies tailored to patient needs and abilities to help with weight loss," she said. "Indentifying factors associated with weight loss and program participation may improve weight loss services, maximize contact and lead to increased weight loss in this population."

Keith will give a slide presentation of her study on Friday at 4:15 p.m. in Hall B. Information about the study is embargoed until this time. Coauthors are Daniel O. Clark, Indiana University, and Anthony Perkins, Regenstrief Institute. Keith can be reached at 317-278-8438 and Top

For additional assistance with these items, contact Tracy James, University Communications, 812-855-0084 or