Under the guidance of Hamline professor and Integrative Physiology Laboratory Director Lisa Ferguson Stegall, a group of undergraduate Hamline students conducted a summer research study entitled, The Effects of Statins on Measures of Cardiorespiratory Fitness, Functional Mobility, and Muscular Strength in Masters Swimmers. The research tested how cholesterol lowering drugs affect skeletal muscle.
The topic of the study is a relevant, real-life public health issue, as 26 million adults in the United States take prescribed statin (cholesterol-lowering) drugs. Although statin drugs generally do not produce life-threatening side effects, up to 20 percent of individuals using them have experienced muscle damage and weakness. The timely nature of the study means that the high-quality research being done by Hamline students will help advance scientific knowledge on the issue of statin induced myopathy.
Five Hamline students were responsible for determining how to conduct the study. Professor Stegall managed the test-subject recruitment and scheduling, but allowed the students to design the majority of the research. The students set up two test groups; one group took statin drugs and the other did not. The students hypothesized that the group taking the statin would have reduced leg strength and treadmill test endurance results compared to the non-statin group. Aside from designing the study on paper, the students also carried out the data collection portion of the research. Working with participants and high-end human physiology equipment, the students measured muscle strength and endurance.
The data collection was carried out in Hamline University’s new physiology laboratory. The new state-of-the-art lab has made conducting human research like this possible for the first time at Hamline. Both the research and the lab highlight the positive growth and restructuring of the Exercise Science Program at Hamline. Being able to engage students in hands on, high quality, publishable research gives students an advantage when applying to graduate or professional school.
See the exercise science students' education in action in the video below.