Testing baby boomers

Baby boomers, people born between the years 1946 and 1964, are thought to be the wealthiest, most active and most physically fit generation. They are also said to be the first to grow up with the expectation that the world will improve with time.

People in Minot who are part of the baby boom generation will have a chance to be the focus of a study conducted by Terry Eckmann, professor in teacher education and human performance at Minot State University.

The study will focus on the effects of Les Mills Body Pump, a choreographed group strength class, and yoga on the psychological and physical performance in adults aged 50 to 70 years.

An informational meeting for people interested in participating in the study will be held Jan. 29 at 7 p.m. in Room 112 of Swain Hall, on the campus of Minot State University. Informational packets and applications are available at Bricks Fitness and the Minot State University Wellness Center front desk.

Research testing will take place Feb. 8, from 2 to 7 p.m. and Feb. 9, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Fitness classes will run for eight weeks, from Feb. 10 to April 12. The classes will be held in the Swain Hall Pedagogy Lab and taught by students who have been certified. The Les Mills Body Pump classes as well as yoga classes will be held five times a week in the late afternoon and early evening. Participants will be randomly assigned to either class and must be willing to commit to participating in three classes per week for eight weeks. They must also be willing to commit to completing the pre- and post-assessment.

Eckmann said she’s hoping for about 90 participants, with 30 people in each class and a group of 30 participants who do not exercise. There will probably be a lot of participants, she added, since the age group is large, they seem to have time to focus on exercise and people will be interested in the type of exercise offered. “I would love to have a wide variety in participants and I want people to know that we’ll start at a very beginner, basic level.”

Participants for the study need to be in the 50 to 70 year age group, must not exercise regularly or not exercise at all, obtain physical clearance for exercise and must not have pre-existing medical conditions that would put them at high risk for exercise.

The Les Mills Body Pump class is something new that has never been used in North Dakota, Eckmann said. It’s a choreographed group strength class that works every muscle group and participants learn a dance routine, she explained. “It’s a streamlined way to do muscle endurance training and has become very popular,” Eckmann added. The body pump classes focus on safety and body alignment, she noted, and will be stressed in the upcoming classes.

“It’s a slow, progressive process,” Eckmann said. “Participants will probably see an improvement in flexibility, strength and endurance.”

Eckmann wanted to bring the Les Mills Body Pump classes to the Minot State University Wellness Center because she thought students would like it. Recently, she was at a conference and in talking to a representative from the Les Mills Body Pump class, was offered free equipment if Eckmann conducted a study involving the class.

In focusing on the 50 to 70 year old crowd, Eckmann said she wanted to conduct a study on them because there is no research out there on group strength classes for that age group. Baby boomers are the biggest population and a good target, she noted. “I’m sending information out via media outlets and word of mouth,” Eckmann said. “Everyone I’ve talked to is interested. I think there will be a lot of interest.” However, the only thing holding people back in participating, she thought, would be with vacations they may be taking, but it’s a good time of year because people are making lifestyle choices.

When the study is complete, Eckmann said there will be a poster session and presentations given by students at Minot State University in April. Eckmann will also take the results to conventions that she’ll be attending this year, she added, as well as publish the results. “It’s a great way to engage students and lets them see how it works,” Eckmann said. “It’s putting knowledge to practice.”

The main thing that Eckmann said she would like for people to know about this study she’s doing is that it’s an awesome deal for participants. “They’ll get free assessments, free training and they’ll get results.”