Practical application of fundamental concepts in exercise physiology.
Ramsbottom R., Kinch RFT., Morris MG., Dennis AM.
The collection of primary data in laboratory classes enhances undergraduate practical and critical thinking skills. The present article describes the use of a lecture program, running in parallel with a series of linked practical classes, that emphasizes classical or standard concepts in exercise physiology. The academic and practical program ran under the title of a particular year II module named Sports Performance: Physiology and Assessment, and results are presented over a 3-yr period (2004-2006), based on an undergraduate population of 31 men and 34 women. The module compared laboratory-based indexes of endurance (e.g., ventilatory threshold and exercise economy) and high-intensity exercise (e.g., anaerobic power), respectively, with measures of human performance (based on 20-m shuttle run tests). The specific experimental protocols reinforced the lecture content to improve student understanding of the physiological and metabolic responses (and later adaptations) to exercise. In the present study, the strongest relationship with endurance performance was the treadmill velocity at maximal aerobic power (r = +0.88, P < 0.01, n = 51); in contrast, the strongest relationship with high-intensity exercise performance was the mean power output (in W/kg) measured during a 30-s all-out cycle ergometer sprint (r = +0.80, P < 0.01, n = 48). In class student data analysis improved undergraduate indepth or critical thinking during seminars and enhanced computer and data presentation skills. The endurance-based laboratories are particularly useful for examining the underlying scientific principles that determine aerobic performance but could equally well be adapted to investigate other topics, e.g., differences in the exercise response between men and women.