UT Tyler exercise research study benefits participants and students

Fit City

TYLER (KYTX) - The University of Texas at Tyler is in the middle of an exercise research study. Women over the age of 55 are the target of study, by the Health and Kinesiology Department. In our Fit City, we go inside one of their workouts to see what the professor and her students are trying to gain from this experience.

What's great about this study-- it's not just benefiting the women who are getting personal training twice a week-- supervised by a well-known exercise physiologist.

The kinesiology students are also getting valuable, hands on training experience they can use on the job.

72 year old Judy Wilson is pushing herself out of her comfort zone. She's one of 15 women selected for the UT Tyler Health and Kinesiology Department's study.

"I was actually getting to where I was just a couch potato and I thought I would come down here and see if it would give me some strength," says Judy Wilson. 

What Judy liked about the program is that it's being run by Dr. Joyce Ballard, a longtime professor at UT Tyler with extensive experience conducting exercise programs and research. She has a partner in her research, Dr. Arce.

"We are working on 3 prominent problems that mature adult women have over the age of 60. One is falling and the injuries that occur, sometimes they are almost life changing; loss of bone which cause osteopenia, which can lead to fractures of the spine or hip; and the third one is cardiovascular.

The study is designed to help the women improve their fitness, balance, vascular health and help prevent osteoporosis.  The participants meet twice a week with their trainer for 65 minute sessions.


"The exciting thing for me has been is Dr. Arce has the same philosophy I do that students learn more with hands on experience than they do by sitting in the classroom," says Dr. Ballard.

The trainers and assistant trainers put the women through a warm up, 30 minutes of weight training and then spend time on balance or cardio training, depending on the day.

"I knew this class involved personal training with older individuals and it is good experience to have.  Miss Judy just makes it lots of fun," says Alex Sanchez, student trainer. 

Alex Sanchez is Judy's trainer. It's his job to help her on the 5 upper body and 5 lower body machines during their sessions and to make sure she is safe in the process.

"She is the one who does all of the heavy lifting.  I just kind of tell her how to do them and If it hurts, she has a shoulder that's hurt and if she can't do that I help her out with that," says Alex. 

Dr. Ballard says the weight training will help women like Judy with bone density and to strengthen their legs for better balance.

"I am having a struggle with that. There were three tests. I did one spot on no problem at all, the next one was a little off center, and the third one was way off center. That's something I have got to work on is the balance," says Judy. 

Training with Alex has given Judy confidence to continue exercising, which was one of Dr. Ballard's goals for their study.

Dr. Ballard will have to wait for the final numbers from their research, but she says she can already see an improvement in the participants flexibility.

All of the woman taking part in the study had to be cleared by a doctor first and the trainers check the blood pressure before and after each workout.

Dr. Ballard says she and her research partner will write two papers and expect their research to be published in a journal.  We just don't know which one yet.


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