Studying the fit life

A four-year study recently conducted at Auburn University found that students gained approximately 12 pounds after four years of college, rather than the 15 pounds commonly associated with the freshman year.

Terry Eckmann, professor of Teacher Education and Human Performance at Minot State University, plans to conduct some research of her own to determine if writing goals and documenting fitness and nutrition activity has an effect on body weight and other physical issues. Other researchers include Heather Golly, assistant professor of Teacher Education and Human Performance, Casey Coleman, assistant professor of School Psychology as well as MSU Student Wellness Center staff.

Participants will be divided into four groups and some participants will use a journal called the Fitbook, the Fitbook app, both the Fitbook and Fitbook app or no documentation has an effect on body weight, girth measurements, body composition, resting heart rate, blood pressure, flexibility, strength, cardiorespiratory endurance, mood and anxiety. The study will also look at what participants like and dislike about the Fitbook, the Fitbook app.

Eckmann said there are 130 college students who have gone through the application process, but students can still apply on Monday, Sept. 30, or Tuesday, Oct.1, the days of the study kickoff. Students applying on either day of the kickoff will have to turn in their applications by Wednesday, she added. The study will end Nov. 22, the week before Thanksgiving. Also at the kickoff event, Angela Manzanarez, designer of FitBook, will be present to offer instruction and motivation to the participants.

The kickoff event on Monday, Sept. 30, will be held at 5 p.m. and on Tuesday, Oct. 1, at noon. Both kickoff events will take place at Swain Hall on the campus of Minot State University. All participants must attend a kickoff event.

Students involved in the study will participate in pre- and post-fitness assessments and they’ll be required to document activity and food intake during the eight-week program. Participants are also asked to complete weight, girth and resting heart rate measurements at six months, one year, two years, three years, four years and five years post-study, which will occur through e-mail. Participation is completely voluntary and people can withdraw at any time.

Eckmann said the Fitbooks will not be checked by her or anyone else. The documentation is designed to teach participants accountability to themselves. “Accountability to yourself is what life is all about,” she added.

There had been a study similar to this planned for the fall of this year, Eckmann said, but that changed after Eckmann met with Manzanarez at a recent convention.

The hope is that the study will determine that writing down what you eat has an effect on what you eat, Eckmann said. “You’re in control of your lifestyle choices and the choices that you make effect your overall wellness.”

It takes 21 to 66 days in order to form or change a behavior before it becomes a habit, Eckmann noted. “We’re hoping it will change their (students) behavior so they won’t gain that college 15.”

For more information on this study, people can check out MSU Student Wellness Center on Facebook or call Eckmann at 858-3155.