UH Moment: "Environmental Chamber"
by: Marisa Ramirez, January 27, 2010 10:01:00 am
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Working out can keep you healthy. Working out in extreme hot or cold can work against you. Hear about new research in this UH Moment.
Brian McFarlin and the Environmental Chamber
"Heat illness is a big problem," McFarlin said. "Despite the fact that it has been known to be a big problem for at least 50 years, there hasn't been good data to suggest what the exact risk factors are that contribute to heat related illness."
The environmental chamber is like a giant cooler—10 X 20, wall-to-wall stainless steel—where researchers control the temperature and humidity. The space can be heated up to 120 degree Fahrenheit or cooled to minus four degrees Fahrenheit to mimic the climate conditions in workouts, like two-a-day practices in the heat or winter outdoor bike rides. Subjects ride a stationary bike in the hot or cold chamber. Their heart and blood are monitored.
Test subjects in the Environmental Chamber
"That's one thing that we're really interested in doing is developing the potential risk factors, and trying to identify things that can be measured in an individual and pointed out to a medical staff—this person is at an increased risk," McFarlin said. "Knowing that is valuable because that's the kind of person you're going to want to watch extra close. You're probably going to want to have some aggressive hydration strategies and more aggressive monitoring techniques."
While other universities have environmental chambers, McFarlin says the research is not the same. He and his research team are focused on those who ultimately will benefit.
"We're certainly interested in collecting data that we can publish, but we're also interested in generating data that might be helpful to the larger population," he said.
The Environmental Chamber is part of what's happening at the University of Houston. I'm Marisa Ramirez.
Telling the stories of the University of Houston, this UH Moment is brought to you by KUHF, listener supported radio from the University of Houston.