My favorite aspects of exercise physiology :)

I took this class mainly because I was interested in the course material and it has paid off. Learning about the central governor and how the mind plays a role in feats of endurance has been my favorite part of the course. It is amazing to study the safety nets that our mind places on our body to prevent damaging itself from exertion. This extends from the diaphragm’s call for air in divers to the unconscious pacing that occurs in ultramarathons and bicep curls – there’s always more in the tank if the mind knows it is almost done! Most of this has come from reading Endure, but the discussions in class have been great.

From lecture, I really enjoyed learning about skeletal muscle. I liked learning about the differences between fiber types and how long it takes to convert from one fiber to another! Learning about the effects of training and detraining was super interesting! I particularly thought it was neat that the improvements seen early on are due to neurological improvements in motor unit recruitment and then later improvements are due to hypertrophy (in resistance training). I am a bit surprised that endurance training can inhibit mTOR and thus slow down muscle growth if you train both resistance and endurance. Too bad we don’t gain more muscle fibers during resistance and endurance exercise. That certainly would make gaining strength and endurance at the same time a lot easier!

One aspect of exercise physiology that I would have liked to learn more about would have been the physiological effects of sleep and recovery. Everyone says sleep is crucial to performing well during exercise and I am sure there are physiological reasons that would be interesting to explore. Overall it was a great class and I am glad I took it!

Week 9 Post

My favorite topic during this term was learning about the fast twitch vs slow twitch muscle fibers. Especially with me being an athlete that runs a lot and lifts, it was interesting to know when I use each muscle. I knew that different muscles were used when doing different activities but I didn’t know that fast twitch was for power and slow twitch was for endurance. I also enjoyed learning how you could “switch” the fibers of your body, the more you run, the more your body adapts and enhances the slow twitch muscles. Overall I really enjoyed all of these topics within the course, especially because I want to be a physical therapist. this course is going to help me in the future and really had my interest.

Fav Topic in Exercise Phys

I think my favorite topic in this class was learning about the immune system and how it can be impacted by exercise. I always thought that working out in the cold would make you sick, and that working out more (higher intensity) meant better health. Now that we understand how the immune system works and how the health benefits only arise after moderate exercise, I feel like I understand why people who over-exert themselves can tend to get sick. I like how the immune system chapter was easy to relate the different cellular components to the effects we feel on a macroscopic level. Being able to relate the open window theory to Endure was also helpful because I feel like we were able to see how the immune system can be compromised in different environments and during endurance training.

Actual Week 8 Post

Sorry – I read the prompt wrong and thought it was supposed to be a recent journal article. So here is my news article response!

New research coming out of the University of Otago is suggesting that high-intensity exercise may restore heart function in people with type 2 diabetes. In the study, they found that 3 months of high-intensity interval training improved heart function in adults with type 2 diabetes. This makes sense based on what we learned in class, as exercise increases cardiovascular ability to pump more blood to the tissues that need it, and it reduces the presence of free radicals, which can be linked to heart attacks/heart damage following a heart attack. The consistent increase in cardiac output leads to athletes having a higher stroke volume at a higher VO2max, as well as a higher end-diastolic volume and more ventricular filling.

Usually, studies involving diabetics do not focus on how to improve their heart health, so this was an important study. Since increasing aerobic capacity through exercise is one of the best prevention techniques for heart disease, and exercise is a major treatment plan for diabetics, this study made a lot of sense. The goal was to have the subjects spend 10 minutes doing vigorous activity during a 25 minute exercise period. Originally, they were worried that the high-intensity exercise would be too much for the diabetic heart, but no one died in the study so I guess it was okay? They never clarified what parameters they used to ensure safety or how they made sure their hearts could handle it, which is a little concerning.

The overall results showed that type 2 diabetics are capable of comparable increases in aerobic capacity as their non-diabetic counterparts and that high-intensity exercise is capable of reversing some of the changes in heart function that precede diabetic heart disease.

Based on this study, and all studies related to type 2 diabetes, it seems like it is in the best interest of these individuals to find a personal trainer and make sure their body stays healthy. The article from Science Daily can be found below:

Outcomes after surgical and non-surgical treatments!

Hopefully it’s fair to use an article for both this blog post and my presentation…

So this study looked at how patients believed their recovery went who underwent surgery to treat a proximal hamstring avulsion and those who had non-surgical treatment. For the purpose of this study, a proximal hamstring avulsion was defined to be “when at least one of three tendons were avulsed from their origin on the ischial tuberosity.” Treatment was determined based on age (younger more likely to get surgery), comorbidity (the presence of two chronic diseases or conditions in the patient), activity level of the patient (the more active patients got surgery), MRI findings (more severe injury received surgery), and clinical findings (if the patient was unable to extend their hip in the prone position, they received surgery).

Surgery consisted of reinserting the common proximal hamstring tendon into the footprint. Following surgery, the patients rehabbed. The non-surgically treated group were referred to a physiotherapist and used the same rehab protocol as the surgical group.

The experimental group consisted of 47 patients, 33 of which had surgery and 14 of which did not (would the results be skewed due to the imbalance of subjects?), who had a mean age of 51 years old. Following their treatment, whether it was surgical or non-surgical, the authors of the study followed up with them 3.9 years later (oddly specific time but okay). The experimental test consisted of a Lower Extremity Functional Scale to determine the range of motion following the injury, and questions from the Proximal Injury Questionnaire (more subjective measurement). The study made sure to account for the severity of the original injury, by looking at the MRI following the injury.

The only result that was significant was that the MRI from the surgically treated group had a larger proportion of tendons retracted more than 2cm (probably why they required surgery…). The Lower Extremity Function Scale resulted in a score of 74 (SD+/-12) for the surgical group and 72 (SD+/-16) for the non-surgical group. However, they looked at their average time of exercise following treatment, and the surgical group reported that they exercised more often and for longer durations than their counterparts. That being said, 94% of the surgical group considered themselves high-performance amateur athletes, and 74% of the non-surgical group did. Do we think this is because they were a more physically active group prior to the injury (which is why their injury required surgery?) or could it be because they experience less pain while exercising?

Overall, the study concluded that there was no significant difference in recovery between surgically treated and non-surgically treated groups. That being said, if you ever have a proximal hamstring avulsion, you should probably think twice about going into the OR since the risk doesn’t provide you with any statistically significant reward.

Some questions I had while reading the article. Both of the tests they used to determine functionality after injury were subjective (which was very clear). Is there any way to do an objective study? Any test to determine if the range of motion is impaired following recovery, or if maybe the non-surgically treated patients fatigue sooner than the surgically treated group? How would this study differ if it was done in younger individuals who have a quicker recovery time? What about the elderly – is surgery less common since the risk of complications is greater? Is the PT program they designed for rehabilitation really equivalent for both groups or should they have created an alternative PT program for the non-surgically treated group to target specific areas for recovery (seeing as though their tendons were never surgically reattached)?

The link to the article is below if you are interested:

Pihl ESkoldenberg ONasell H, et al. Patient-reported outcomes after surgical and non-surgical treatment of proximal hamstring avulsions in middle-aged patients.

Presentation Topic

My presentation topic will be the impact of steroids on performance and how this affects the skeletal muscle system short term and long term. This topic interests me because throughout my high school athletic career I did have some teammates and peers who took on using steroids (some more serious than others), and even to this day I still hear about some who take steroids at the collegiate level.  Although I know that I made the right decision to not take these substances in high school, I am still curious as to how they exactly work and the effect that it can have on an individual. I know that not all steroids are bad and I believe that part of the reason they are viewed so negatively in the world of sports is because a lot of people are not knowledgeable about this issue. Seeing as to the fact that we have a lot of athletes in the class who may come from athletic backgrounds, I am sure it would interest them to inquire more information about how these substances work in the sports world they are a part of.

I will be focusing mainly on anabolic steroids as that is the more common one used by athletes. So far I have discovered that these steroids act to increase muscle mass and strength. In addition, the main anabolic steroid hormone produced by the body is testosterone. Testosterone has two main effects on the body. Anabolic effects which promote muscle building and androgenic effects that are responsible for male traits, such as facial hair and a deeper voice. I will be focusing mainly on steroids closely related to testosterone as they work to mimic the way that it works in the body, triggering protein synthesis which in turn builds more muscle and effects performance. I still need to conduct more research to answer the other parts of my question.

Disadvantages of Lactate Accumulation

Lactic accumulation in muscle cells and whether or not it is beneficial or detrimental has been a topic of discussion  for a long time. In Lamb’s article “Point:Counterpoint: Lactic acid accumulation is an advantage/disadvantage during muscle activity,” it discusses how several tests involving exercise were used to determine why lactic accumulation is a disadvantage. In an experiment involving intense arm exercise lactate concentration in the blood was elevated and in turn led to an observed reduction in the performance of leg exercise.  However this is not just limited to certain parts of the body as studies that tested many parts of the body showed similar results. In a knee-exterior exercise the time until exhaustion was 3.5 min while compared to 4.7 min in the normal condition has been used to elevate the lactate concentration in the blood and all have observed a reduction in performance of leg exercise (1).

In another study, when maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) was at 50% it caused muscle fatigue and exhibited the highest elevations in blood lactate concentration, blood pressure and respiratory exchange ratio (2). In addition, blood lactate levels were significant contributors to brain blood flow because it was observed in the standard partial regression coefficients for blood lactate, which showed the degree of effect was p=0.75, suggesting that lactate level affected brain blood flow. Thus, blood lactate concentration during exercise exhibited the greatest increase at this intensity. This study also found that lactate played a role in the sensation of pain and that muscle pain is associated with reduced performance. More studies need to be taken to further prove these ideas but it does seem to be a notion that lactate production is associated with pain, making it disadvantageous.

  1. Lamb G.D., Stephenson D.G, Bangsbo J., and Juel C. (2006). Point:Counterpoint: Lactic acid accumulation is an advantage/disadvantage during muscle activity. Journal of Applied Physiology. 100:1410-1414


Psych patient’s new primary prescription

Hi guys,

I chose an article that was published 2 days ago on Science Daily. It summarized a new study that recently came out by Tomasi et. al., called “Positive Patient Response to a Structured Exercise Program Delivered to in-patient Psychiatry.” When it comes to the treatment of psychiatric patients for a wide variety of mental health and mood disorders, including anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, suicidal tendencies and acute psychotic episodes, this new study advocates for exercise, rather than psychotropic medications, as the primary prescription and method of intervention. Findings from the study reveal that physical exercise is so effective at alleviating patient symptoms that it could reduce patient’s time admitted into facilities as well as their reliance of psychotropic medications. It was so effective in fact, that Tomasi believes “it can become as fundamental as pharmacological intervention”. A gym was built exclusively for about 100 patients and 60-minute structured exercise and nutrition programs were implemented into their treatment plans. Patients reported lower levels of anger, anxiety, depression, higher self-esteem, and overall improved moods. 95 percent of patients also felt happy or very happy, as opposed to neutral or sad, after they completed the 60 minutes of exercise.


I thought this was a super cool article, a. because it is recent so this kinds of research is happening today, but b. because something as easy as getting moving can naturally make people with mental health problems feel better. A lot of pharmacological answers to mood disorders have other serious and harmful effects on a person’s lifestyle. Implementing something as simple as an exercise regiment can make people feel better without being dependent on medications.


If you want to read the actual study I will post it below!

David Tomasi, Sheri Gates, Emily Reyns. Positive Patient Response to a Structured Exercise Program Delivered in Inpatient PsychiatryGlobal Advances in Health and Medicine, 2019; 8: 216495611984865 DOI: 10.1177/2164956119848657

The desire to move is coded in our genes.

Hi class,


I found an article published in the New York Times on May 15th entitled “To move is to thrive. It’s in our genes.” This article caught my eye because I know that when I am in shape, it seems like everything goes well and this article says that might be part of our DNA.


Researchers at Texas A&M published a study in April that used big data and genetic databases to try to pinpoint the moment in human evolution when genes began coding for a desire to be active. They found 104 snippets of DNA that are associated with physical activity in people, six of which are known to produce proteins related to metabolism. The researchers found that these snippets of DNA are not common to other mammals, suggesting that humans’ desire and need to move may not be shared among all mammals. In fact, when compared with Neanderthals and Chimps, the snippets related to inactivity were more shared than those related to activity, suggesting the will to move is more human-specific.


Previous twin studies and genome-wide association studies have suggested that 50 percent of physical activity behavior in humans depends on genes. It’s important that this and the more recent study the article commented on are not about innate aerobic fitness or performance ability. Rather, they are referring to the simple desire and interest to leave the couch and get moving! In today’s world, many Americans live sedentary lives, contributing to our nation’s prevalence of Type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and osteoarthritis. Moving matters! This article suggests the need and desire to move may be specific to humans as chimps, who share much of our DNA, do not experience the same health detriment from a lack of physical activity.

The article is specifically interested in understanding when the genetic desire to move came about, as that could help researchers cross-reference how food availability and climate were changing at that period of time to help understand WHY (on an evolutionary scale) we have to move.


The Texas A&M researchers found that the snippets of DNA telling us to get moving likely found their way into our genome about 500,000 years ago when we were Homo erectus – before Homo sapiens existed! The author of this article acted like this was a surprising finding and that they expected the genes to have turned up only 10,000 years ago when people started subsistence farming. Personally, I am not surprised that these genes were selected for long ago because I would have expected them to be present when our ancestors needed to hunt nomadically to survive. It seems like the need to move would be much more important if your next meal was always running away rather than being grown out of the ground. I wonder if these genes are now simply vestigial. Many people see going to the gym as a chore, wouldn’t it be cool if they did not have to! They should talk to He Jiankui – the gene editor from China.


The article gives an important caveat – that they did not perform any experiments and cannot be 100% confident in their estimate of when the genes came out. I think this is a responsible caveat to report, although the study most definitely provides an interesting insight into how ancient the desire to move is! One criticism I have for the author is the title: “To move is to thrive. It’s in our genes.” The article did not discuss heavily how exercise benefits the human body and mind, just about how ancient and how human-specific the will to move is. Maybe a more appropriate title would be “Get off your couch! It’s in your genes.”


I looked up the scientific study in PLOS one that the article was based on (see below), and it seems that the author of the NY times article did a fairly good job summarizing. A couple things left out of the summary were: (1) that most of the physical activity SNPs were in intron regions (not protein coding) and (2) that there actually IS great conservation of these genes between Neanderthals, chimps and Homo sapiens – it’s just that Homo sapiens experienced some evolutionary pressure to regulate physical activity more (as a result of mutations).

Overall it was an interesting read!


Thanks for reading!


Many Marijuana Users Turn to the Drug for a Surprising Reason: Workout Fuel

Previously researchers have linked the rise in marijuana use with the lack of exercise across Americans. Angela Bryan, a psychology and neuroscience professor at the University of Colorado Boulder commented that if “the kid on the couch eating Doritos, not being physically active” is the reality of cannabis “that [would be] a big problem”. Previous research has cited that people who use marijuana tend to have lower body mass indexes and decreased risk for obesity than non-users. In 2015, Bryan though her research concluded that “cannabis is linked to greater feelings of motivation and enjoyment about exercise, potentially by activating brain pathways involved in feelings of reward and pain response”.

Now in a new study published by Frontiers in Public Health, Bryan found that many people do use marijuana before and after their workouts. In addition those who do tend to exercise more than the average American. Researches surveyed 600 adult drug users living in the US where marijuana has been legalized. The survey included “when people used the drug, whether they felt it affected their workouts and how they thought it influenced exercise motivation and recovery”.

The results where shocking! More than 80% of the responders used cannabis within an hour of beginning exercise or within four hours after. They reported that marijuana helped them to enjoy exercise more and on average got 2.5 more hours of exercise per week compared to non-users. Bryan says this area needs more research as “It’s not known whether the relationship is causal, for one, and using the drug as a workout aid potentially comes with safety risks”. Because marijuana can disrupt motor functions and increase heart rate, high-intensity exercise may be dangerous.

I thought this article was interesting because it is something different than what others have been writing about. I think this article can be linked to our discussion about pain. Perhaps users can exercise more because marijuana helps to reduce pain associated with exercise. I think more research is required in this field. More detailed tests with subjects performing actually activities versus answering survey questions may show different results. I cannot imagine someone who is high running faster than someone who is not. Even the authors mention “people living in states where marijuana has been legalized, which the study exclusively focused on, happen to be some of the most physically active in the country, so it makes sense that cannabis users there would get a lot of exercise”. It will be interesting to see later studies as marijuana becomes legalized in additional states.