An ongoing study at Pennington Biomedical Research Center aims to help medical professionals better understand how physical exercise improves health and prevents disease.
For decades, it has been broadly known that exercise is good for a person’s health. But now, researchers are looking for more specific answers about why that is and how the body changes with physical activity.
The nationwide study is called MoTrPAC, which stands for Molecular Transducers of Physical Activity Consortium. Pennington Biomedical in Baton Rouge was selected as one of the sites to help conduct the study. Dr. Eric Ravussin, Pennington Biomedical’s Associate Executive Director for Clinical Science, said what makes MoTrPAC groundbreaking is its focus on precision health care, which better identifies how specific activities and treatments affect individuals.
“We’ve come to understand that in medicine, it’s not a one size fits all approach,” Dr. Ravussin said. “Each person’s body is different and responds in a different way. The more we know about a person’s biologic makeup and their environment, the more we can know about how they respond to different types of physical activity.”
To take part in the MoTrPAC study at Pennington Biomedical, people must be at least 18 years old, have a body mass index (BMI) between 19 and 35, have no history of diabetes or heart disease, and exercise once a week or less. If selected for the study, participants will be randomly assigned to 12 weeks of either resistance exercise training, endurance exercise training, or a control group. Those assigned to an exercise group will visit the Pennington Biomedical fitness center three days a week for 12 weeks to work out with an on-site trainer. Blood and tissue sampling will take place before and after the 12 weeks of exercise training to assess how each person’s body is changing as they exercise.
“We know that the participants will start at a baseline of being very sedentary, so we know they are going to show some improvement on average,” Dr. Ravussin said. “Some will improve more than others. A big part of the research is seeing how different people improve in different ways with the different types of exercise.”
Dr. Ravussin added that researchers will collect some psychological data as well as quality of life information during the MoTrPAC study to see how exercise is impacting each participant’s mental health. In addition, they will evaluate factors such as participants’ genetics, metabolism, socioeconomic status, family support structure, and access to fitness centers as part of the research.
In general, Dr. Ravussin said research studies that involve physical activity tend to have positive long-term impacts for participants.
“What we have experienced here at Pennington Biomedical is that people love it,” he said. “It may be a little tough at the start, but people really enjoy it. They are thrilled to see that maybe they can lift more, lose weight, or see a difference in their muscle mass. Most people continue with some type of physical exercise after these types of studies because it becomes a habit for them, and they know how to approach it in a way that is best for them.”
MoTrPAC participants will be compensated up to $1,500 for completing the study. Anyone interested in participating can call 225-763-3000, email email@example.com or visit www.pbrc.edu/clinicaltrials.