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March 31, 2011

Mayor Mayo "tests his stress" at ULM's Human Performance Lab

It's mid-March. How's that New Year's plan to get in better shape going?

If you've fallen off the wagon since those well-intentioned January resolutions, you aren't alone.

Recidivism rates among people who first attempt to lose weight can range from about half up to 95 percent, depending on which study is cited.

But for every failure, there are success stories.

A report published in the March/April 2011 issue of the American College of Sports Medicine's Health & Fitness Journal revealed that of the more than 6,000 people who have joined the National Weight Control Registry since its 1994 founding, nearly 90 percent have combined healthier eating and exercise to achieve long-term weight loss.

But weight loss – or weight gain – is only one measurement of a person's overall fitness level.

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.

Filled with equipment to gauge such health-related issues as aerobic fitness, muscular fitness and flexibility, and total body composition, the lab provides the client insight to help determine how "heart healthy" he or she really is.

With that foundation, ULM officials can also suggest a program for improvement.

Even new ULM President Nick J. Bruno took advantage of the lab's offerings, undergoing a series of tests after the first of the year to determine his health status, and is now following recommendations to improve his overall health.

"We're not doctors; however, we can show a person his or her actual fitness level, which can help that person set realistic fitness goals and get in better shape," said the lab's director and Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist, Brian Coyne, M.Ed., RCEP.

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

The lab has contracted with area businesses to perform health assessments of its employees, but is also able to extend its services to the general public at reduced rates.

The laboratory exists for the advancement of the science of exercise through teaching, research, and public service.

On March 10, Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo (BBA, '79) participated in a computer-guided treadmill stress test and underwent other health measurements to determine his true fitness level

Guided by Coyne and his team of graduate students, Mayo said he was motivated to set the example that "Exercise is Medicine."

"People don't realize we have resources available in our own city to improve our health status. Anything we can do to improve the overall health of our region is a good thing," he said.

As Mayo continued to walk the treadmill at increasingly higher levels, his heart rate showed corresponding increases.

At intervals, he indicated to lab workers how intense he felt he was working as the testing progressed and walking became more difficult.

But for Mayo and others like him, the real test occurs after getting off the treadmill.

"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," explained Coyne.

Mayo survived the test just fine – albeit a little more winded than he was when he first arrived at the lab – and is now following an eight-week program for physical improvement.

"Now the rest of the day should be a piece of cake," Mayo quipped.

For more information about the Human Performance Lab, call 318-342-1310 or 318-342-1314 or

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