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January 28, 2009

New Year, New You: Snapshot of personal fitness available at ULM Human Performance Lab

(Note: This article is the third in a series, “New Year, New You,” aimed at raising awareness of opportunities that could improve the health of residents in northeast Louisiana. An annual report issued in December ranked Louisiana as the unhealthiest state in the nation.)

It’s the fourth week of January and you’ve started sweating it out at the gym and curtailing the calories. Maybe your pants are even fitting just a little looser, and you’re feeling better already.

Good for you. But do you really have a clear and accurate picture of what your overall fitness level is? After all, looking thinner on the outside doesn’t guarantee peak conditioning on the inside.

The Department of Kinesiology's Human Performance Laboratory at the University of Louisiana at Monroe offers area residents a way to accurately take a snapshot of their overall personal fitness level – and then set realistic goals for improvements.

“Many times people may be suffering from certain conditions on the inside, but show no symptoms on the outside, until it’s too late,” said the lab’s director and Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist, Brian Coyne, M.Ed., RCEP. “We’re not doctors. But we can show a person his or her actual fitness level, which can help a client set realistic fitness goals or get needed treatment.”

In fact, Coyne said that follow-up with a primary physician can be the next step, depending on what is revealed in the person’s test results.

The lab is filled with equipment to gauge such health-related issues as aerobic fitness, muscular fitness and flexibility, along with total body composition. For example, under the guidance of a graduate student, clients may participate in a computer-guided treadmill stress test to determine how “heart healthy” they really are.

“The healthier your heart is, the quicker it should return to its normal rate following vigorous exertion; the less healthy the heart is, the longer it takes the heart to recover from something like an exercise stress test,” said Coyne.

Coyne said the lab already contracts with certain area businesses to perform health assessments of its employees, but is able to extend its services to the general public at reduced rates. The primary purpose of the laboratory is the advancement of the science of exercise through teaching, research, and public service.

For more information, call (318) 342-1310 or (318) 342-1314 or

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