Every athlete seeks the winning formula that will make them more competitive. Add coaches, trainers, weekend warriors, and everyday health enthusiasts to the mix, all looking for an edge to improve fitness, shorten recovery times, and avoid injuries. Exercise physiology plays a key role in gaining such advantages and insights.
Exercise physiology encompasses the scientific study of how the body responds and adapts to exercise and physical activity. It covers a wide spectrum of systems including the cardiovascular, respiratory, and musculoskeletal as well as metabolic function and overall performance. Today’s exercise physiologists benefit from a range of tools and techniques to measure, collect, and analyze such responses and acquire a better understanding of the ways in which exercise affects both humans and other animals, including solutions that integrate the latest virtual reality and eye tracking technology.
This type of research is not without its challenges. Study participants are often required to be physically active during data acquisition. The tools employed in such instances must allow participants to move freely without introducing signal artifacts or noise into the data. A 2021 study into the physiological progression of fatigue shows how researchers can resolve such problems by employing wireless devices such as BIOPAC mobile EMG amplifiers, used in this case to measure strain to the biceps and triceps during exercise. Researchers successfully gathered a range of EMG data with no negative effects from the physical exertion of the study participants.
Exercise physiology research has also been applied to the treatment and management of exercise- and sports-related injuries, both acute and chronic. Additionally, studies have investigated the connection between physical activity and pathology, revealing new ways to prevent or reduce the progress of certain diseases.
A 2020 study by researchers at the University of Udine examined the effects of both exercise alone and exercise combined with a high-protein diet on patients with late-onset Pompe disease, a neuromuscular disorder that degrades a person’s tolerance to physical activity. The study explored which routine had the greatest impact, if any, on a patient’s exercise tolerance, muscle and pulmonary functions, and quality of life. A BIOPAC isometric dynamometer measured muscle force generated by the right leg and arm during flex and extension tests. Data gathered with a BIOPAC data acquisition and analysis system running AcqKnowledge software demonstrated that the combination of exercise and a high-protein diet did improve exercise tolerance, muscle enzymes, pulmonary function, and quality of life for the patients.
Exercise physiology research also sheds light on the ways in which exercise impacts mental and physical wellness. A study published at the Ho Chi Minh University of Technology used heart rate variability (HRV) to evaluate the influence of stress, both physical and mental, on the performance of stationary bike trainees. During the experiment, electrocardiogram (ECG) signal data was gathered from participants using an MP36 data acquisition unit running Biopac Student Lab (BSL) software over a two-month exercise regimen. Based on the results of the study, researchers concluded that HRV provided a useful window into how stress impacts performance and that HRV data could be used as a management tool to monitor stress levels during training.
The techniques and tools available to today’s exercise physiology researchers are as diverse and varied as the areas in which they are being employed, from athletic performance monitoring and enhancement to wellness studies. For more information on how such tools can benefit your exercise physiology research, watch BIOPAC’s webinar on Recording Great Data from Exercising and Mobile Subjects.
Our regional BIOPAC sales reps are ready to help you find the right tools to design your next exercise physiology study. Contact them today to learn more.