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Volume 69, Issue 148, Thursday, June 24, 2004


UH team will study Hispanic exercise

Researchers hope to use their results to educate community

By Portia-Elaine Gant
The Daily Cougar

A University study beginning in July will target both a key portion of Houston's population and an issue plaguing the city and the nation.

The Health and Human Performance Department's study of the effects of physical activity on Hispanics will begin July 5 pending the selection of 20 subjects. 

"The original thinking was that we would be limited to those with a body mass index over 30. We decided that it would be better served to let anyone who was interested participate, and we could stratify results according to (body mass index)," Danny Hughes, the study's coordinator, said. "All of them could still benefit from the physical activity."

Hughes, a doctoral candidate, developed the 13-week study, which is being funded through the Grants to Enhance and Advance Research Award.

Participants will be asked to visit the HHP lab four times for fitness and muscle-function assessments. The researchers will then help the participants develop fitness programs to meet their needs.

Hughes and researchers Mark Clarke and Kim Sandhoff will conduct assessments at the midpoint and end of the study to chart the participants' physical change. Most of the work will be done in the new Lab for Integrated Physiology.

"We have been working really hard for quite a few years to build this lab. It's been a long time in the process," Hughes said. "Now that we have it, we want to do good things with it."

The effects of physical activity on Hispanics have not been well researched, so the study will be important for a number of reasons, Hughes said.

"(Hispanics) are at a greater risk for obesity and the consequences, which include type II diabetes, high blood pressure and other things hyperkinetic diseases," Hughes said. "There is some research that indicates that certain gates and factors predict obesity, and therefore, other diseases later. 

The researchers plan to eventually take the information to the community, perhaps in the form of a mobile education unit.

"I think this is a real key point for our study," Hughes said.

Anyone interested in participating in the study may e-mail Hughes at

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