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Scientist of the Week: Paul Loprinzi

Thu, 12/08/2011 - 3:29am
Lily Barback, Associate Editor
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Paul Loprinzi Image: Paul Loprinzi

Every Thursday, Laboratory Equipment features a Scientist of the Week, chosen from the science industry’s latest headlines. This week’s scientist is Paul Loprinzi from Bellarmine Univ. Loprinzi worked with Brad Cardinal of Oregon State Univ. to study how sleep and exercise interact and impact health.

Q: What made you interested in studying the connection between physical activity and sleep patterns?

A: Obtaining adequate sleep is essential in ensuring optimal health and productivity. However, about 1 out of every 3 adults have difficulty falling asleep or have excessive sleepiness during the day. Given the beneficial effects of physical activity on a variety of physiological, neurological and musculoskeletal health outcomes, we wanted to see if physical activity was also associated with sleep, and if so, it could be used as a non-pharmacological modality to help improve sleeping-related parameters.

Q: What are the future implications of your research and findings?

A: If additional studies, particularly experimental studies, confirm our findings, then physicians, psychiatrists and other health care professionals are encouraged to promote regular participation in physical activity to help improve sleep quality.

Q: What was the most surprising thing you found in your research?

A: One of the most important and interesting findings in our research was that the physical activity guidelines established for cardiovascular disease, some forms of cancer, and all-cause mortality was also associated with sleep quality and general productivity related to sleep.

Q: What is the take home message of your research and results?

A: The take home message of our research is that adults who engage in at least 150-minutes of moderate-intensity or 75-minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week, compared to those engaging in lower levels of physical activity, may be less likely to feel overly sleepy during the day, have leg cramps while sleeping and have difficulty concentrating when tired.

Q: What new technologies did you use in your lab during your research?

A: Unlike other related studies, we utilized an objective-measure of physical activity to reduce measurement error often associated with self-report of physical activity behavior. Among all the participants, physical activity was measured using a waist-mounted accelerometer that detects accelerations and can be used to estimate the frequency, intensity and duration of physical activity over multiple days.

Q: What is next for you and your research?

A: Given the association between physical activity and sleep in the general adult population, and the fact that adult pregnant women often report problems associated with sleep, we plan to examine the relationship between physical activity and sleep among pregnant women.

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