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John Raglin
Department of Kinesiology

Georgia Frey
Department of Kinesiology

Timothy Mickleborough
Department of Kinesiology

Sandy Tecklenburg
Department of Kinesiology

From overtraining syndrome to omega-3, IU research presented at major sports medicine conference

EDITORS: Around 50 faculty and students from Indiana University campuses in Bloomington and Indianapolis, including IU's School of Medicine, will participate in approximately 30 poster presentations, symposia and clinical workshops at the annual conference of the American College of Sports Medicine, May 31-June 3 in Denver. Below is a sampling of the research to be presented. For help reaching these researchers, contact Tracy James, 812-855-0084 and

Psychological clues to athletic overtraining syndrome. Competitive athletes who undergo hard training can become their own most formidable opponent when mood disturbances such as clinical depression -- caused by an intensive training regimen -- bring their competition and training to a halt for weeks or months. Coaches and exercise scientists have known for decades about overtraining syndrome -- also called staleness syndrome -- but have yet to discover a way to detect the condition early on when treatment is simpler. Testing the psyche, however, is showing promise, said John Raglin, a psychologist in the Indiana University Bloomington Department of Kinesiology. Raglin, who will discuss mood-state monitoring of athletes on Thursday (June 1) during a tribute to the pioneering sport psychologist Bill Morgan, conducts research on exercise and sport. While testing biological markers has proven ineffective as well as impractical because of the invasive nature of the tests and costs, relatively inexpensive psychological assessments in the form of questionnaires could give athletes, trainers and coaches a way to detect the syndrome before it becomes full-blown. Raglin said this could require the services of psychologists trained to administer and interpret such tests. While this approach is uncommon in the United States, athletes and coaches in other countries have begun using this psychological tactic.

  • Background: Athletes suffering from staleness syndrome no longer can compete at their customary levels, even after training has been reduced or stopped for a brief period. Staleness also is associated with a long list of symptoms that include medical illnesses, such as infectious disorders, and psychological disturbances, depression in particular, that are far more severe than typical daily stresses. Raglin said on average 10 percent to 15 percent of competitive athletes who train rigorously -- six or more hours a day -- will develop staleness syndrome. Such an athlete has a 33 percent chance of developing staleness syndrome during the course of his or her career. The risk for elite athletes could be twice as high, Raglin said. These rates were determined by studying endurance-sport athletes such as swimmers and runners, but Raglin said intensive training and conditioning is common in many more sports, so the risk is growing. Research he conducted with several hundred young athletes has shown that even children as young as 12 have experienced this devastating condition.

Raglin can be reached at 812-855-1844 and

Physical activity research and disability: playing catch up. Inactivity can have serious consequences for people with disabilities, threatening their health and independence, and exacerbating limitations they already experience. Despite this physical activity research involving people with disabilities lags far behind similar research for non-disabled populations. Georgia Frey, an associate professor in Indiana University Bloomington's Department of Kinesiology, and other researchers with extensive experience involving physical activity research and people with disabilities, will talk with researchers new to the field about approaches to this important area of study during a symposium on Friday (June 2) titled "Physical Activity Behavior and People with Disabilities: Emerging Issues in Research and Practice." Frey said physical activity researchers should consider using or becoming aware of tested disability theories used by sociologists and researchers involved with disability counseling, disability studies and other areas of study involving people with disabilities. These theories often address experiences unique to people with disabilities, such as adjustment or coping processes, and could help the researchers better design studies and interpret findings. "They need to understand the social, cultural and psychological aspects of living with a disability, rather than focusing on the medical status or diagnosis," Frey said. "Often someone is disabled more by their environment and people's attitudes than by the nature of their condition."

  • Background: Research involving physical activity is on the upswing because of increased interest from the federal government and funding agencies. While this growing interest among academics extends to subgroups, such as women, children and aging populations, physical activity research involving people with disabilities has not kept pace despite the fact that approximately one in five people have a long-lasting condition or disability that affects basic physical activities and employment. Frey said most research involving physical activity and people with disabilities is descriptive, with few intervention studies. Much of the basic data that is available for non-disabled populations, such as attrition rates for participating in studies, is limited for people with disabilities.

Frey can be reached at 812-855-1262 and

Fish oil eases exercise-induced asthma symptoms. People suffering from exercise-induced asthma were able to reduce their symptoms below the threshold used to diagnose the disease by eating a diet supplemented with fish oil, according to research findings by Indiana University exercise physiologist Timothy Mickleborough. The special diet reduced narrowing of the patient's airway and enabled the person to use less asthma medication, the study showed. These and related research findings by Mickleborough, an assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology in IU's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, offer the prospect of combining dietary supplementation with reduced medication in a treatment that could be at least as beneficial as either in isolation. There would also be fewer of the potential side effects from medication, such as reduced effectiveness from long-term use and toxicity from some medications. In the fish oil study, the post-exercise lung function of participants -- adults with mild-to-moderate persistent asthma -- improved by about 64 percent and their use of emergency inhalers decreased by 31 percent when they consumed a diet supplemented with fish oil, rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, for three weeks. Mickleborough's fish oil findings were published in the January issue of the journal Chest. His poster presentation, titled "Protective effect of fish oil supplementation on exercise-induced bronchoconstriction in asthmatic subjects," is included in the respiratory function session on Thursday (June 1). Co-authors are Martin Lindley, research scientist in the IUB Department of Kinesiology; Alyce Fly, associate professor in the IUB Department of Applied Health Science; and Alina Ionescu, Department of Respiratory Medicine, University of Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff, UK.

Mickleborough can be reached at 812-855-0753 and

Vitamin C reduces exercise-induced asthma symptoms. Vitamin C supplementation reduced the severity of exercise-induced asthma symptoms in asthmatics during a study by Indiana University researcher Sandy Tecklenburg. The research by Tecklenburg, a student in the IU Department of Kinesiology's highly ranked doctoral program, involved eight asthmatics who also had EIA. For two weeks, they ingested either ascorbic acid, commonly known as vitamin C, or a placebo. All subjects underwent a one-week washout period before crossing over to the alterenate diet. In EIA vigorous exercise triggers an acute narrowing of the airway afterward making breathing difficult. Tecklenburg's research found that the post-exercise lung function, as measured by the forced expiratory volume in 1 second, decreased by an average 6.4 percent for study participants receiving the ascorbic acid supplementation, compared to decreases of 14.3 percent and 12.9 percent for participants on a normal diet or receiving a placebo respectively. In addition, several proinflammatory mediators were also significantly reduced on the ascorbic acid diet. Her research also found that the reduction in the severity of EIA may occur through a mechanism by which ascorbic acid supplementation reduces reactive oxygen species, thereby leading to a reduction in bronchoconstrictive mediators, which are chemical messengers that trigger airway narrowing. Tecklenburg's adviser for the project was Timothy Mickleborough, assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology. Her poster presentation, titled "Ascorbic acid supplementation reduces severity of exercise-induced asthma," is included in the respiratory function session on Thursday (June 1). Co-investigators are Mickleborough; Joel Stager, professor in the Department of Kinesiology; Alyce Fly, associate professor in the Department of Applied Health Science; and Yeon Bai, a graduate student in the Department of Applied Health Science. The research was funded in part by a grant from Gatorade. Tecklenburg received an award for the best research poster in the doctoral student category at the most recent Midwest ACSM conference, where she presented this research.

Tecklenburg can be reached at

For assistance contacting these researchers, contact Tracy James, 812-855-0084 and