Special Section: Department of Kinesiology
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Special Section: Department of Kinesiology
Exercise and Attitude May be Thermostat For Hot Flashes Attitude may play an important role in how exercise affects menopausal women, according to researchers, who identified two types of women— one experiences more hot flashes after physical activity, while the other experiences fewer. “The most consistent factor that seemed to differentiate the two groups was perceived control over hot flashes,” said Steriani Elavsky, assistant professor. “These women have ways of dealing with (hot flashes) and they believe they can control or cope with them in an effective way on a daily basis.” Women who experienced fewer hot flashes the day after participating in vigorous to moderate physical activity were more likely to be part of the group that felt they had control over their hot flashes. Women who had more hot flashes following exercise were likely to be those who felt they had very few ways of coping with their hot flashes, Elavsky and her colleagues report in a recent issue of Maturitas. Elavsky suggested that cognitive behavioral therapy may help some women feel they have more control over their bodies and reactions to hot flashes. The participants with fewer hot flashes the day after vigorous exercising were also less likely to experience anxiety and depression. However, women who had fewer hot flashes the day after only light or moderate physical activity had higher levels of pessimism and depression than others. “The bottom line for research is that people need to look at individual differences,” said Elavsky. “It’s not enough anymore to do a study and look at overall impact of an exercise program on symptoms. It’s very clear that we need to look at the different responses that women might have, and try to understand these individual differences more.” Elavsky and her colleagues followed twenty-four menopausal women for the length of one menstrual cycle, or for thirty days if they were no longer menstruating. Each woman used a personal digital assistant (PDA) to record hot flashes and wore an accelerometer at the hip to
track physical activity. The women in the study regularly had hot flashes before the start of the study, experiencing from five to twenty a day. “The real-time reporting of symptoms and the objective measurement is a strength of the study,” said Elavsky. “There aren’t any studies out there that use both of these approaches. To ask a woman to report a symptom when she’s experiencing it is the most valid assessment.” At the beginning of the study, the participants completed evaluations that looked at their depressive symptoms, chronic stress, perceived control over hot flashes, and personality. They had a physical exam where researchers measured levels of reproductive hormones and body composition. Each woman served as her own control; therefore, the data was analyzed, for each separately. If a woman experienced a hot flash during the observation period, she entered the event on the PDA, along with the severity and length of the event, where she was, if she had recently consumed a trigger, such as coffee, and included other situational information. At four random times throughout the day, the PDA prompted the woman to assess and record daily stressors and mood. At the end of the day, each completed a fifth assessment and looked retrospectively at how her day went and how well she coped with her hot flashes that day. “I was surprised by how large the individual differences were,” said Elavsky. “I was also surprised that the association was present, in terms of a statistically significant association, only in a handful of women— and among those, there were two whose physical activity led to more hot flashes the next day and one that had the opposite experience. Maybe the reason why we don’t see the associations in larger studies is because they cancel each other out.” Also working on this research were Peter Molenaar, Distinguished Professor of Human Development and of Psychology; Carol Gold, research associate for the Center of Healthy Aging; Nancy Williams, professor of kinesiology and physiology; and Keith Aronson, associate director of the Children, Youth and Families Consortium.
Motivation to Exercise Affects Behavior For many people, the motivation to exercise fluctuates from week to week, and these fluctuations predict whether they will be physically active, according to researchers. In an effort to understand how the motivation to exercise is linked to behavior, the researchers examined college students’ intentions to be physically active as well as their actual activity levels. “Many of us set New Year’s resolutions to be more physically active, and we expect these resolutions to be stable throughout the year,” said David Conroy, professor of kinesiology. “One of the things we see in this study is that from week to week our motivation can change a lot, and these weekly changes in motivation can be destructive to our resolutions.” Conroy and colleagues recruited thirty-three college students and assessed over a ten-week period both the students’ weekly intentions to be physically active and their activity levels. During each of the ten weeks, participants were instructed to log on to a website and to rate their intentions to perform physical activity for the week ahead. To assess physical activity, participants were instructed to wear pedometers each day for the first four weeks. The team found that for many of the participants, the motivation to exercise fluctuated on a weekly basis, and these fluctuations were linked to their behavior. The results appear in a recent issue of the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology. “Our motivation to be physically active changes on a weekly basis because we have so many demands on our time,” said Conroy. “Maybe one week we’re sick or we have a work deadline—or, in the case of students, an upcoming exam. But these lapses in motivation really seem to be destructive. Our results suggest that people with consistently strong intentions to exercise have the best chance of actually following through on their intentions, while people with the greatest fluctuations in their motivation have the hardest time using that motivation to regulate their behavior.” According to graduate student Amanda Hyde, the latter group still may be successful at incorporating physical activity into their lives. “Maybe the way to get these people to be more physically active isn’t necessarily to increase their motivation,” she said, “but rather
to change the way they do things in their lives so exercise automatically fits within their schedule, like walking to work rather than driving or taking the stairs rather than the elevator.” Conroy added that consistency of intentions is not the only thing that matters in predicting whether or not a person will be active. It also matters if it is a weekday or the weekend. “We saw that people who consistently reported stronger intentions to be active were more active during the week, but then on weekends the pattern flipped for them,” said Conroy. “If a person was really motivated during the week, then he or she crashed on the weekend.” Conroy noted that people seem to have different systems that motivate their behavior during the week and on the weekend. “We speculate that this reflects the fact that college students are in the midst of a transition that significantly increases their autonomy,” said Conroy. “They have to manage their time much more effectively during the week because they have so many more demands, such as course schedules, job schedules and extracurricular activities, whereas on the weekends they have more discretionary time that they can choose to spend as they wish. Students may be exhausted from having regulated their behavior and managed their time so carefully during the week that on the weekends they need to recharge their batteries and throw their time management out of the window. If we had done this study with mid-life or older adults, I don’t know that we would have seen the exact same pattern.” Regarding New Year’s resolutions, Conroy advised that people should focus less on making broad commitments to becoming more active and instead come up with a plan for how they’re going to sustain their motivation from one week to the next. “It is important to pay attention to how we can sustain a high level of motivation and not just let that motivation degrade in response to all the external demands we face,” said Conroy. Other authors on the paper include Steriani Elavsky, assistant professor, and Shawna Doerksen, assistant professor of recreation, park, and tourism management.
Special Section: Department of Kinesiology
Increased Arm Swing Asymmetry is Early Sign of Parkinson’s Disease Photo Credit: Gene Maylock
People with Parkinson’s disease swing their arms asymmetrically—one arm swings less than the other—when walking. This unusual movement is easily detected early when drugs and other interventions may help slow the disease, according to researchers who used inexpensive accelerometers on the arms of Parkinson’s disease patients to measure arm swing. “Scientists have known for some time that people with Parkinson’s disease exhibit reduced arm swing during the later stages of the disease, but no one had come up with an easy way to measure this,” said Stephen Piazza, associate professor. “We found that not only do people with the disease exhibit reduced arm swing, but they also exhibit asymmetric arm swing, and this asymmetric arm swing can easily be detected early in the disease’s progression.” Stephen Piazza
No cure for Parkinson’s disease exists, but according to Piazza, if taken early, certain drugs can improve some of the disease’s symptoms and even reduce the likelihood of death, making early diagnosis important. Some people also believe that changes in nutrition and other lifestyle factors can modify the progression of the disease. The researchers attached inexpensive accelerometers to the arms of eight Parkinson’s disease patients who were in the early stages of the disease—within three years of clinical diagnosis. They also attached the accelerometers to the arms of eight age- and sexmatched people who did not have the disease. The team asked the subjects to walk continuously for about eight minutes at a comfortable pace. The researchers downloaded the acceleration data and used software they developed—that will be available free to interested doctors—to analyze it. They published their results in a recent issue of Gait & Posture.
The scientists found significantly higher acceleration asymmetry, lower cross-correlation between the arms, and reduced synchronization of the arms in the early Parkinson’s disease patients. According to Joseph Cusumano, professor of engineering science and mechanics, the lower cross-correlation and reduced synchronization suggest that the arm movements are poorly coordinated. “In other words, if I measure the location of your right arm, it is difficult to use that measurement to predict the location of your left arm,” he said. “It is well known that Parkinson’s disease has an impact on how people move—neurologists have been using this fact as the basis for clinical examinations for a very, very long time—but here we are for the first time precisely quantifying how the disease not only affects the relative amount of limb movements, but also how well coordinated in time these movements are.” To diagnose patients with Parkinson’s disease early, some doctors and scientists have proposed the use of a smell test, because people with the disease lose their ability to distinguish odors, according to Xuemei Huang, movement disorders physician, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. “But conditions other than Parkinson’s disease also can affect a person’s ability to smell,” she said. The Penn State team’s method of evaluating arm swing can be applied quickly and inexpensively by primary care physicians in their own offices when the smell test is inconclusive and before the application of an expensive brain scan. “Measuring arm swing asymmetry and coordination with our method may be the cheapest and most effective way to detect Parkinson’s disease early in patients’ lives when it still is possible to treat the symptoms of the disease and to improve longevity,” said Piazza. The scientists plan to further investigate whether the arm swing evaluation in combination with a smell test can enhance early diagnosis even more. They also plan to further develop their technique so that the accelerometers give immediate readings, which, they said, would save the extra step of downloading the data to a computer and analyzing it, thereby making the arm swing assessments of Parkinson’s disease even easier.
Photo Courtesy: Women’s Health and Exercises Lab (2)
Focusing on the Female Athlete
Photo Credit: Paul Hazi
Gone are the days when women and girls were discouraged from engaging in sports and other physical activities. Yet, with the rise in the number of females participating in sports, there also has been a rise in the incidence of female athlete triad, a syndrome in which the combination of low energy availability, menstrual disturbances, and low bone mineral density can cause significant lifelong health problems and even death. According to Mary Jane De Souza, professor, energy deficiency—an imbalance between the amount of energy consumed and the amount of energy expended during exercise—is the primary cause of the female athlete triad. “Expending more energy than you take in can lead to secondary amenorrhea— or the loss of a menstrual cycle for more than 90 days,” she said, noting that secMary Jane De Souza ondary amenorrhea has been reported to be as high as 69 percent in dancers and 65 percent in long-distance runners compared to 2 to 5 percent in the general population. De Souza said that bone mineral density is significantly lower in amenorrheic athletes than in athletes with normal menstrual cycles, and that this type of bone loss can cause an increased risk of fractures, including stress fractures. “The consequences of these medical conditions are potentially irreversible and underscore the importance of preventive, diagnostic, and treatment strategies for this syndrome,” she said.
De Souza and her colleague Nancy Williams, professor and head of the department, use an interdisciplinary approach to investigate the physiological and behavioral interactions between energy balance, reproductive function, bone health, and sport performance in premenopausal exercising women. This approach includes conducting randomized clinical trials and experiments to better understand the female athlete triad, the effect of eating behavior on health outcomes, and the role of energy balance on sport performance. In other projects, the team is examining the effects of exercise on circulating estrogen levels in women at high risk for breast cancer, the effects of oxidative stress on fertility, and the impact of weight loss on pregnancy outcomes in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome. The team’s “Refuel” study, which is funded by the Department of Defense, represents the first large randomized clinical trial designed to increase caloric intake in women with exercise-associated menstrual disturbances for the purpose of restoring an optimal energy state that will lead to resumption of menstruation and improvements in bone health. “This study examines a non-pharmacological strategy for resuming menstrual function and potentially off-setting the negative bone health outcomes associated with energy deficiency and low estrogen,” said De Souza. “Our hope is that this study will provide valuable findings on the effect of adequate energy intake on preventing the development of an energy deficit and associated health complications in women participating in high volumes of exercise. Overall, the goal of our research is to raise awareness and gain support in the promotion of optimal health and well-being for female athletes and recreationally active women.”
Special Section: Department of Kinesiology
Photo Credit: Paul Hazi
Nancy Williams Appointed Head of the Department of Kinesiology Nancy Williams, professor, has been appointed head of the Department of Kinesiology. Williams is well regarded for her human clinical research in the area of women’s health and exercise. She and her colleagues use an integrated and interdisciplinary approach to increase understanding of the physiological and behavioral underpinnings of interactions between energy balance, reproductive function, bone health, and exercise performance. In particular, they conduct both randomized clinical trials and short-term experiments to further understand the female athlete triad, the etiology of menstrual disturbances, bone loss and stress fracture in premenopausal women, the impact of post-meal metabolism and gut peptides on energy balance, reproductive function, bone strength and stress fractures,
the impact of eating behavior phenotypes on health outcomes, and the role of energy balance on sports performance. Williams has been recognized for her research with a number of awards and honors, including being named a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine in 1998 and a Fellow of the National Academy of Kinesiology in 2011. She also received a Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program Career Development Award in 2001 and a National Institutes of Health Individual National Research Service Award in 1994. She is a member of the Endocrine Society, the American Society for Nutrition, and the Female Athlete Triad Coalition. Williams joined the faculty of the Department of Kinesiology at Penn State as an assistant professor in 1997. She became an associate professor in 2003 and a professor in 2009. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology at Bucknell University in 1984, a master’s degree in exercise physiology at Ohio State University in 1986, and a Sc.D. degree in applied anatomy and physiology at Boston University in 1992. She conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine from 1992 to 1996.
Athletic Training Now Stand-Alone Major Students who are interested in entering the field of athletic training—which deals with the prevention, assessment, and treatment of injuries and illnesses in a physically active population—now have the option to receive a bachelor of science degree in the subject. A new Athletic Training major has replaced the Athletic Training option, which formerly was part of the Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology degree. Upon completion of the program, students will graduate with a bachelor of science degree in athletic training. “Athletic trainers are integral members of the health care team in secondary schools, colleges and universities, professional sports programs, sports medicine clinics, corporate and industrial settings, and other health care settings,” said Lauren Kramer, athletic training program director. “They are trained in risk management and injury prevention, pathology of injuries and illnesses, clinical examination and diagnosis, nutritional aspects of injury and illness, and more.” According to Kramer, graduates of the program have received prestigious internships, including those with the National Football League, Major League Baseball, and the National Hockey League. Graduates ultimately end up in a variety of professional settings such as collegiate sports, secondary schools, professional sports, hospitals, sports medicine clinics and other allied health settings. In the last five years, every student in the program who has applied to graduate school or an entry-level athletic training position has gained the position he or she was seeking.
tialing by the Board of Certification (BOC), allowing them to earn the ATC (Athletic Trainer Certified) credential as well as apply for athletic training licensure in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. “The major is unique in that it offers students on-campus and offcampus clinical assignments, exposure to manual therapy and alternative treatments and techniques, summer cadaver lab dissections, and the ability to do research and independent studies in our Athletic Training Research Laboratory,” said Kramer. The Athletic Training Research Laboratory’s goal is to foster a dynamic, collaborative orthopedic sports medicine translational research unit. Specifically, it aims to prevent and treat musculoskeletal lesions with a particular focus on preserving health-related quality of life. “Interestingly, every single undergraduate honors thesis completed via the Athletic Training Research Laboratory over the past two years has been submitted through peer-reviewed mechanisms to national, regional, and state professional conferences, and has been accepted as either an oral or poster presentation,” said Kramer. Now with the February 2012 hiring of Tim Bream ’83 H P E as the head athletic trainer for Intercollegiate Athletics, athletic training students have the opportunity to work with Penn State Football as part of a clinical rotation, in addition to the other varsity sports on campus.
“The feedback that I receive from employers and graduate-program directors highlights the work ethic, professionalism, and knowledge of our graduates,” said Kramer.
“Tim returned to his alma mater after spending seventeen years in the NFL with the Chicago Bears,” said Kramer. “The athletic training faculty and students are excited to have the opportunity to work with Tim, as his support of our undergraduate program is unmatched!”
According to Kramer, the Athletic Training major is a concentrated, accredited program designed for students to obtain national creden-
To learn more about the Athletic Training major, go to: www.hhd.psu.edu/kines/undergraduate/athletic-training.
Karl Newell, professor, has been named the 2013 Alliance Scholar by the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD). The Alliance Scholar program promotes scholarship among AAHPERD’s members and seeks to encourage and facilitate research and creative activities that enrich the depth and scope of health, leisure, sport, dance and related activities. As the Alliance Scholar, Newell will present the Alliance Scholar Lecture at the 2013 AAHPERD National Convention & Exposition in Charlotte, N.C., and will work to disseminate findings to professionals in the field and others. “Karl Newell has arguably had more impact over the past years on the shape of contemporary kinesiology than any other individual,” said Scott Kretchmar, professor, who nominated Newell for the award. “His ground-breaking articles, which promoted ‘kinesiology’ as the name of the profession, expanded the scope of the field from sport to physical activity and reconceptualized relationships between theory, practice, and performance.” Newell is a leading researcher in the field of motor behavior. His research focuses on coordination, control, and skill of normal and abnormal human movement across the lifespan. Among Newell’s many academic honors is the Distinguished Scholar Award of the North American Society for Psychology and Sport Activity and the Faculty Scholar Medal of Penn State. He served as head of the Department of Kinesiology from 1993 to 2001 and again from 2007 to 2012. In between, he was associate dean for research and graduate education in the College of Health and Human Development. He earned a Ph.D. degree in physical education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1973.
Sayers John Miller, III, Receives National Athletic Trainers’ Association Award Sayers John Miller, III, assistant professor, has received the 2012 National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) Continuing Education Excellence Award. The award honors an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the profession of athletic training in the area of continuing education. In particular, the award recipient must have demonstrated noteworthy commitments to continuing education via creative works, volunteer service, speaking engagements, and other distinguished professional activities.
Photo Credit: Gene Maylock
Photo Credit: Gene Maylock
Karl Newell Named 2013 Alliance Scholar
Miller received a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education from Penn State and a master’s degree in physical therapy from Stanford University. He then served as an assistant athletic trainer with the San Francisco Forty Niners and as the athletic trainer for the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team at the 1992 Olympic Winter Games in Albertville, France. He also owned an outpatient orthopedic physical therapy clinic in Seattle, Wash., for ten years. Miller eventually returned to Penn State, where he earned a Ph.D. degree in kinesiology in 2001. He then joined the faculty of the department as an assistant professor. Since that time, he has conducted research on orthopaedic injury rehabilitation, including manual therapy, functional testing, and outcome assessment. He also has practiced as a physical therapist at the Penn State Center for Sports Medicine. In addition, he has pursued extensive continuing education in the areas of manual therapy and spinal dysfunction and has presented nationally and internationally on these subjects.
Steriani Elavsky Receives 2011 New Investigator Award
Elavsky’s research focuses on physical activity, psychological function, women’s health, and aging. Specifically, she examines the biopsychosocial mechanisms of physical activity effects on health and quality of life, the biopsychosocial determinants of physical activity behavior across the lifespan, and menopause.
Elavsky joined the Penn State faculty as an assistant professor in 2006. She earned a master of arts degree in Czech language and literature and English as a second language at the University of Ostrava in the Czech Republic in 2000, a master of science degree in exercise psychology at the University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign in 2002, and a Ph.D. degree in exercise psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2006.
Photo Credit: Gene Maylock
Steriani Elavsky, assistant professor, has received the 2011 New Investigator Award from The North American Menopause Society. The award recognizes the outstanding abstract submissions to the NAMS Annual Meeting of four investigators who have achieved their degree within the past seven years.
Special Section: Department of Kinesiology
Biomechanics Affiliate Program Group The Biomechanics APG seeks to unite biomechanics alumni in order to serve alumni, faculty and staff members, and students of the Biomechanics program within the Department of Kinesiology. Below is an update from the Biomechanics APG’s president about current APG activities and ways to get involved. • Mentoring of graduate students is now a regular part of our program at the Annual meeting of the American Society of Biomechanics (ASB). • We are working on a series of regular invitations for alumni to speak on campus to biomechanics graduate students, kinesiology undergraduate and graduate students, and faculty members. If you are interested in speaking to students, please contact Phil Martin.
Connect with the Affiliate Program Group Website alumni.hhd.psu.edu/biomechanics APG President Philip Martin ’83g PH ED, President email@example.com
• Communication with current graduate students and alumni is now done via our website (see right). We are currently expanding our list of members through email upgrades. • Our major social gathering is now an important part of our program at the annual meeting of the ASB. • We have expanded our board and will transition to new officers in July.
Kinesiology Affiliate Program Group The KINES APG seeks to unite Kinesiology alumni (and alumni of predecessor majors) in order to serve alumni, faculty and staff members, and students of the Department of Kinesiology. Below is an update from the KINES APG’s president about current APG activities and ways to get involved. • John Norwig ’79 HP ER, ’84g HL ED, trainer for the Pittsburgh Steelers, was honored as an Alumni Fellow during the spring meeting of the HHD Alumni Society board of directors. • The APG hosted a very successful roundtable in November 2011, with nine alumni meeting with about fifty students. If you are interested in participating in future roundtables, please contact Patrick Slater.
Connect with the Affiliate Program Group Website alumni.hhd.psu.edu/kines LinkedIn “PSU Kinesiology APG”
• Amendments to the APG’s bylaws were approved by alumni as a result of a fall 2011 mailing.
• The APG hosted a tailgate during the Blue-White game. More than fifty people stopped by.
• Representatives of the APG met with Senior Lecturer Helen Hartman of the Penn State Berks Campus to start planning a roundtable event for the fall and other activities. If you live near the Berks campus and would like to get involved, please contact Patrick Slater. • The board is growing, but we are still looking for more alumni to get involved. If you are interested in learning more about the board, please contact Patrick Slater.
“Penn State Kines Alumni” Patrick Slater ’86 PH ED firstname.lastname@example.org
News for alumni and friends of the Penn State College of Health and Human Development and the Department of Kinesiology (KINES)