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UNT researchers receive grants, recruit students for kinesiology studies

UNT researchers receive grants, recruit students for kinesiology studies

UNT researchers receive grants, recruit students for kinesiology studies
January 22
18:11 2015

Jordan Ottaway / Staff Writer

The National Strength and Conditioning Association gifted more than $45,000 in grants to three kinesiology researchers to continue their studies on how alcohol and supplements affect muscle recovery.

For the past five years, associate professor Jakob Vingren, teaching fellow Danielle Levitt and teaching assistant Adam Venable have conducted various alcohol studies in the Applied Physiology Lab. The trio recruits students who are of age to participate in studies regarding the effects of alcohol.

Beginning in the summer, Vingren received the $24,000 Young Investigator Grant to examine how alcohol consumption influences the physiological processes affecting muscles’ ability to recover from strenuous exercises.

Vingren recruited male and female students who are used to intense, demanding workouts. Participants come in two different days to perform a workout where they compete six sets of 10 repetitions of heavy squats.

“Athletes and people who exercise drink,” Vingren said. “And they drink at least as much as their non-exercising peers.”

Roughly 10 minutes after their regiment is complete, students drink either alcohol or a controlled drink, depending on the day.

Vingren said he is geared to getting the participants’ blood alcohol content to .12 by giving them alcohol in a binge-drinking format where five to seven drinks are consumed in a 10-minute period.

“It’s a heavy dose in a short amount of time,” he said. “But it’s not uncommon with what people will do when they are at a party or a bar.”

Data is collected through muscle biopsies from the thigh and multiple blood samples. Before the workout, a muscle biopsy is taken along with one blood sample. Blood samples are taken every 20 minutes after exercise for five hours.

Vingren isn’t the only one interested in the effect alcohol has on a workout regimen.

Awarded $7,500 for the Master’s Graduate Research Grant, Levitt is conducting a study on alcohol’s effect on women after strenuous resistance workouts. Barnes and colleagues at Massey University in New Zealand carried out a similar study in 2010 but did not test the effects on women.

“There are many things to take into consideration, such as menstrual cycle phases, because those hormones can have an affect on strength,” Levitt said.

Levitt said this study needs to be done because results can’t be generalized between men and women. She expects to see a decline in muscle performance at 24 hours after, and then a small recovery by 48 hours. With alcohol involved she expects the decline to be further and to have recovered less by 48 hours.

“It’s been shown that alcohol without exercise has an affect on inflammatory cells,” Levitt said. “Muscle damage exercise also has an affect on these cells, but we don’t know what happens when you combine the two.”

Similar to Vingren’s study, participants come for two different visits and drink alcohol after the workout. Before, they take strength measurement readings along with blood samples. Exercises consist of three sets of 100 repetitions of eccentric knee extensions on one leg. This is followed with visits five hours, 24 hours, and 48 hours after the workout to give a blood sample and take strength measurements again. The next visit they will repeat the entire process with the other leg.

Session time for Vingren and Levitt’s study runs about six and a half hours. Workouts last from 18 to 35 minutes, but participants aren’t allowed to leave until they are sober. During that time of rest, blood samples are taken to track progress. Vingren said it’s still too early to see any results, and that he expects to have all analysis done by the upcoming summer.

Venable, on the other hand, plans to take a different route. He was awarded $13,750 for the Doctoral Graduate Research Grant to study the effects of curcumin, a yellow pigment found in the spice turmeric, on inflammatory biomarkers and performance measures after a muscle-damaging resistance exercise. Curcumin has often been used as a natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.

When a muscle is recovering, damaged and dead tissue is removed, but healthy tissue is sometimes removed as well. Venable believes curcumin will limit biological inflammation so that the damaged tissue can still be effectively removed, but the surrounding healthy tissue remains unaffected.

Venable said when a muscle is damaged and ruptures, creatine kinase, an enzyme found in muscles, is released into the bloodstream causing biological inflammation. This type of inflammation is needed in order to help muscles heal, but is not the same as a swollen ankle or knee.

“Based on these principles, and what we know occurs during muscle damage, it was a natural assumption that curcumin could aid in the recovery process,” Venable said. “It is our hope that curcumin reduces the amount of inflammation in the days following muscle damage.”

Featured Image: Associate professor Dr. Jakob Langberg Vingren, pictured, teaching fellow Danielle Levitt and teaching assistant Adam Venable received $45,000 to study how alcohol affects muscle. Vingran’s office is located in the Physical Education Building room 210-H.

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