Exercise Physiology

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By Leah – 4th year student

As a fourth year student I recently took a class called Exercise Physiology with a focus on the mechanisms that happen in the body during short term high intensity exercise, and long term lower intensity exercise. The class was structured quite differently than other classes at Quest. For the first week and a half we dove into the theory and reasons why different mechanisms happen in the body during exercise, with a lab assignment every night to apply the theory based knowledge to real life examples and real life data. The second week was dedicated to writing a proposal for the upcoming research project we would put together. This was an assignment embedded in the literature with realistic goals of what we could accomplish in 1.5 weeks. The third week was dedicated to data collection in the Recplex with people from the Quest community as participants. It was a way to interact with the community and provide data to contribute to the scientific community.

Throughout the different research proposals there were three main groups that split up to carry out group studies. One group focused on whether a dose of caffeine can influence short term maximal exercise. Another group focused on the effect of peppermint oil on breathing rate during submaximal exercise. My group focused on the effect of one 15 minute individualized coaching session on running form and running economy. Each of these groups went through rigorous processes to try and mimic what real researchers go through to get academic papers published.


Some aspects to consider when conducting a study is whether there is a control group. This eliminates other variables such as undivided attention to participants or duration of study that may have an effect on the results. Another barrier to data collection was scheduling participants and lab time to ensure that there was no overlap of equipment use. Also, it is important to consider what other academic literature supports to ensure that the study being conducted is filling a gap in the literature and provides evidence to suggest the hypothesis may be correct.


Research Study Findings


Peppermint Oil

(Credit to: https://d2v4vjmuxdiocn.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/Pepperming-essential-oil-cancer.jpg)

Prediction- breathing in peppermint oil while performing submaximal exercise, the breathing rate (which is the amount of air breathed in per minute) will decrease.

Justification- Peppermint oil, due to its menthol properties is considered a bronchodilator, meaning the airways of the lungs open in diameter allowing more air to flow into the bloodstream.

Findings- At lower speeds there was no change whether there was peppermint oil present or not, but when breathing started to become difficult, due to higher intensity of exercise, there was improved breathing rate.


Running Coaching

(Credit to: http://www.blackhillbounders.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/LaurenFleshman_stridestudy_lg.jpg)

Prediction- A single 15 minute individualized coaching session in running will improve running form (technique of running) which will improve running economy (amount of oxygen used by the body at a given pace).

Justification- With better running form and better running technique the amount of oxygen consumed by muscles should decrease. For example, if a person’s arms are waving all over the place, they will be using more oxygen in their arm muscles, than if their arms were quiet by their sides in a natural motion. Therefore, by changing running form and improving technique, the amount of oxygen consumed by the body should decrease.

Findings- There was an objective change in running form, but not in running economy.



Caffeine pills

(Credit to: https://www.advancedliving.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/The-Best-Caffeine-Pills-Of-2018-review-696×449.jpg)

Prediction- After a high dose of caffeine or a placebo drug, short term maximal exercise will improve.

Justification- Caffeine is an ergonomic, meaning that it enhances physical performance, exercise, or recovery. Therefore, the objective of this study is to see if a placebo effect would also enhance performance.  

Findings- There was no significant change in maximal exercise whether a placebo pill or caffeine pill was taken, although reported symptoms of jitteriness and shakiness increased in those who took caffeine pills but not placebos.  


Overall this class was focused on providing lab based skills and the messy reality of conducting a study. Everyone in the class got hands on experience working with lab materials, data collection, repeatable studies, and varying different equipment uses. If there is anyone interesting in going into a kinesiology based research career, this class would be essential to take before completing your Quest degree.

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