Exercise Science research provides opportunity, advances knowledge

Research is a critical part of Grove City College’s Exercise Science program, providing students with essential experience and a deeper understanding of their discipline and advancing knowledge in the field.

The 2021-22 academic year was a productive one for the program, with the successful completion of four research projects and publication of those studies in peer-reviewed professional journals.

“Research is an integral part of our program. We perform highly novel and impactful research. We also collaborate with world-renowned scientist and experts in the field and different companies on multiple projects each semester,” Dr. Phillip Prins, department chair and professor of Exercise Science, said.

All exercise science students are required to design, plan, and execute a research project. In addition to Research Methods and Research Practicum requirements, students have the opportunity to conduct meaningful, relevant research alongside experienced and accomplished faculty.

In recent publications, Grove City College students are credited along with Prins, Associate Professor of Exercise Science Jeff Buxton, and some of the top minds in the field, including: Dr. Tim Noakes of Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town, South Africa; Dr. Dominic D’Agostino from the University of South Florida; and Dr. Jeff Volek of The Ohio State University. Students have also conducted studies in collaboration with Levels Health, Keto Brick, Animal Flow, and other industry-leading companies.

Junior Holly M. Grose, an Exercise Science major from Kailua, Hawaii, worked on several studies, preparing equipment and subjects for exercise protocols, taking blood lactate samples, and entering data.

“Being a research assistant is a great experience. You get to know your professors a lot better and, because you are in the lab a lot of the time, you get familiar with it and the equipment,” Grose said. “When I took exercise physiology this past spring, I was a step ahead of the class because I was a research assistant.”

Grose and fellow student researcher Anna K. Jenkins, a junior Exercise Science major from Forest, Va., said faculty-student research provided experience and skills they’ll need to advance in their post-graduate plans.

“Working on these studies improved my experience as a student because I felt very involved in the study and knew what was happening. The professors trust us a lot and teach us as we go, which I really appreciated,” Jenkins said.

“Research impacts valuable learning objectives that have lasting influence as undergraduates prepare for professional service. Students benefit from completion of exposure to the hypothesis-driven scientific method. They learn valuable ‘soft’ skills that help them really thrive in the workplace and ‘hard’ skills that students need to perform their job duties effectively,” Prins said.

This year the program completed and published four studies:

  • “Ketone Bodies Impact on Hypoxic CO2 Retention Protocol During Exercise” in Frontiers in Physiology, December 2021. This project found that a ketone supplement rapidly elevated blood ketone levels and reduced blood glucose without altering lactate production. The findings have implications for the use of ketone supplements in extreme environments like enclosed, recirculated air environments found in submarines or reduced oxygen environments experienced at altitude.
  • “Inter-Set Voluntary Hyperventilation-Aided Recovery Does Not Improve Performance of Bench Press and Squat in Recreationally Trained Individuals” in Research Directs in Strength and Performance, January 2022. This project found that voluntary hyperventilation during the rest periods between sets of bench press and squat did not enhance overall resistance training performance compared to normal breathing during rest. These results suggest that other factors, including training experience, may influence the effectiveness of this training strategy.
  • “The Effects of Carbohydrate versus Fat Restriction on Lipid Profiles in Highly Trained, Recreational Distance Runners: A Randomized, Cross-Over Trial” in Nutrients, March 2022. This study examined how low carbohydrate high fat diets affect blood lipid profiles in highly trained runners. It found that the diets lowered blood triglycerides and very low-density lipoprotein, while also increasing blood total cholesterol, low density lipoprotein cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol in comparison to a high carbohydrate low fat diet.
  • “High Fat Diet Improves Metabolic Flexibility During Progressive Exercise to Exhaustion (VO2max Testing) and During 5km Running Time Trials” in Biology of Sport, May 2022. This project examined how high-fat or high-carbohydrate, low-fat diets impact the metabolic responses during exercise. The high fat diet markedly increased fat oxidation and reduced carbohydrate oxidation, with no associated impairment in exercise performance. Following the high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet, athletes generated 50% or more of their energy requirements from fat. This study challenges the popular doctrines of “carbohydrate dependence” for high intensity exercise and the role dietary macronutrients play in human performance.

High quality and impactful research is one of several factors that has contributed to the growth of the Exercise Science program since it was established a decade ago, Prins said. Others include the student-centered learning approach, top-notch faculty, professional certification, internships, articulation agreements with graduate programs, and high post-graduate employment. Prins noted that students go on to a wide range of careers, including physical therapy, athletic and personal training, dietetics, exercise physiology and advanced degrees in physiology/kinesiology/biomechanics.

Exercise Science research provides opportunity, advances knowledge

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