In the Saint Francis University exercise physiology program, you will have plenty of opportunities in the classroom and beyond. Below are just a few of the opportunities waiting for you as a future exercise physiology student.
Exercise Physiology is a very hands-on critical thinking and problem solving field. Lab experience, research opportunities, internships and community outreach activities are critical to your success. That’s why we believe you should have plenty of these opportunities at the undergraduate-level, and we offer them.
Connecting with the discipline, connecting with experts in the field, and connecting with other exercise science students is part of what it means in becoming a professional. As a student you may participate in professional activities including attending and presenting at professional conferences as you learn new things and are ready to share your research. It is called networking. We are part of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine, and each year we “Connect” at the annual meeting in Harrisburg. We expect all seniors to attend this meeting, and encourage juniors and anyone else who wishes to attend to do so. This meeting provides lots of opportunities to hear talks on a variety of research projects, and learn more about the field of exercise physiology.
The SFU Exercise Physiology College Bowl Teams:
The college bowl is a Jeopardy-style quiz that happens at the Annual Mid-Atlantic ACSM Meeting. The student teams showcase their knowledge in the areas of Exercise Physiology, Anatomy, Biomechanics, and Clinical Exercise Physiology.
The competitions includes 12 teams from schools in the region, including Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, West Virginia, Washington DC, and New York State.
Our teams have won the regional competition in 2012, 2013, 2017 and 2019.
The repeat victory in 2012 and 2013 was the first in the competitions history!
2012 Team: Brandon Winters, Irene Boyle, Ryan Seiler, and alternate Jennifer Nicholson (left). After winning the regional competition, the teams competed in the National finals at the ACSM meeting in Indianapolis, IN The team finished in 3rd in Indianapolis (pictured below).
2013 Team: Steven Mosey, Katrina Wilhite and Brandt Beck Placed 5th In Orlando
2017 Team: Matt Romanish, Rachel Smith and Nicholas Foggia placed 4th in Denver
2019 Team: Gillian Elliott, Jessica Havrilla and Shaelyn Parry (Covid-19 year, no national competition.)
My research interests include those of the applied and translational types. Principally these areas of interest include topics that will enhance what and how I teach. The greatest reward for me results from mentoring students in the research process. My recent research adventures have included describing the effects of traveling to very high altitude on student and faculty affective responses, ratings of perceived exertion, and resting and exercise physiological parameters. Other research interests are related to areas of body composition assessment, soldier performance, and educating strength practitioners on how to prevent heat related illness and death in clients and athletes.
My research focuses on the use of different perceptual measures in exercise testing and prescription. Specifically, I am interested in the beneficial effects of using Ratings of Perceived Exertion (RPE) to self-regulate exercise intensity over other common methods, such as using heart rate to judge intensity. The RPE scale is numbered from 0 to 10 and attempts to link a number to how hard a person feels they are exercising. The rationale is that the RPE scale is easier to use by both adults and children, and is not influenced by the factors that can alter a person's heart rate including the individual's body weight and fitness level, the environment, and various medications. I also have research experience in the effects of dietary and exercise interventions on weight loss in both adults and children. My other interests include barefoot/minimalist running, the relationship between flexibility and running performance, and muscle fat as a fuel source in athletes or a cause of Type 2 Diabetes in sedentary individuals. I am always open to other projects and ideas, and am willing to mentor students who wish to conduct their own research.
My research interests are broad and cover a variety of topics. Most recently, my work has focused on Exercise and Cancer. The specific areas are lifetime physical activity and cancer, and the effects of exercise on cancer biomarkers. Other areas of research include the use of exercise and its potential effects on musculoskeletal injuries and physical therapy. “Cross Education” is a paradigm whereby you strength train one limb to effect the strength in the opposite limb. This technique may be used post surgically, or following periods of immobility to augment strength loss in the involved limb.
Undergraduate Research Presentations. Alphabetical by year (current to 2014)
Parry, S. Qualitative analysis of patient comments promoting adherence to an exercise oncology rehabilitation program. Independent Study, Honors Thesis, 2019. LoRusso Mentor. Accepted for presentation at the 2019 Mid-Atlantic Regional Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine. Nov 2019.
Gresko, J., Ruggieri, M.G., Graham, JD., Fitzgerald, PI and Wisniewski, K.” Effects of an Eight Week Periodization Program in Adolescents.” Slide Presentation:2018 MARC-ACSM Annual Meeting, Harrisburg, PA. Abstract: International Journal of Exercise Science: Conference Proceedings: (2019) Vol. 9: Iss. 7, Article 37. 2018 SFU Office of Student Research Grant: $421.51Dietrich, S., Fitzgerald., The Correlations of Weight, BMI, and Body Composition Among Young Adults.2018 Presentation ACSM Annual Meeting, Minneapolis, MN Travel Grant: $1500.00Brennan, K., Fitzgerald, P., Wisniewski, K. Evaluation of the Accuracy of the ACSM Walking Metabolic Equations During the Bruce Protocol Poster:2018 ACSM Annual Meeting, Minneapolis, MN Abstract: Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., 50(5S):670, May 2018.Fox, A., Kopriva, F., Fitzgerald, P. Exercise: the Brain Food Poster: 2017 SFU Student Research Day.Arney, B., Wisniewski, K. Perceived Intensity Level During Treadmill Exercise. Poster: 2016 MARC-ACSM Annual Meeting, Harrisburg, PA. Abstract: International Journal of Exercise Science: Conference Proceedings: (2017) Vol. 9: Iss. 5, Article 3.Bennett, N., Foggia, N., Bertie, R., Wisniewski, K. Performance Measure in Female Collegiate Soccer Players According to ACL Injury.Poster:2016 MARC-ACSM Annual Meeting, Harrisburg, PA. Abstract: International Journal of Exercise Science: Conference Proceedings: (2017) Vol. 9: Iss. 5, Article 9.Brennan, G., Fitzgerald, P. Cycling and Cancer: What Does Love Have to Do With It? Poster: 2016 SFU Student Research DayKosova, E., Wisniewski, K. Effect of different exercise types in cardiorespiratory rehabilitation in patients with heart disease.Poster: 2016 SFU Student Research DaySmith, R., Fitzgerald, P.Stem Cell Therapy and Exercise Intervention: A Case Study. Poster: 2016 SFU Research DayMichael, T., Wisniewski, K. Inter-rater reliability of the Overhead Squat Test Poster: 2016 SFU Student Research Day. Slide Presentation: 2017 Honor’s Thesis 2016 SFU Office of Student Research Grant: $200 2015 SFU School of Health Sciences Research Grant: $250Nickels, R., Wisniewski, K. Does perceived aerobic exercise intensity match the prescribed physiological cutoffs? Poster: 2015 SFU Student Research Day 2015 SFU Office of Student Research Grant: $500
Wingard, L.S., Kindel H.R., Ross-Stewart L and LoRusso, SM. Urinary Incontinence: The Silent Embarrassment of Female Athletes. Accepted for presentation at the American Physical Therapy Association Annual Combined Sections Meeting (Feb. 2015)
Wilhite, K.L., Mosey S.A. and LoRusso SM. Association Between Exercise Blood Pressure, Na+ Ingestion And Cold Pressor Test: A Pilot Study. Presented at the 35th Annual Meeting of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine, Harrisburg PA. November 2014.
Foore, C. Are Saint Francis University students meeting current physical activity recommendations? Poster: 2014 SFU Student Research Day Published: 2015 Spectrum. 6(1). pgs. 4-7.
At the 2013 MARC Conference, Seth Gray presented a poster titled "The Relationship between Aerobic Fitness, BMI, and Measures of Perception while at Very High Altitude." Co-Authors on this work include Daniel Drozdowsky and Marie Schoenenberger of the environmental engineering program, as well as Dr. Kristofer Wisniewski and Dr. Patricia Fitzgerald. This work was the result of the groups trip to Bolivia in the summer of 2013, along with the environmental engineering program lead by Dr. Bill Strosnider.
As part of his internship in the DiSepio Human Performance Lab, Exercise Physiology Student, Robert Nickels, examined the accuracy of rating exercise intensity in young adults during treadmill exercise. He presented this research as a poster titled “How do individuals perceive aerobic exercise intensity?” at the 2015 Saint Francis University Annual Student Research Day. Robert also received a $500 grant from the Saint Francis Office of Student Research to continue this research.
In May 2013, nine Saint Francis students had the opportunity to travel with three Saint Francis professors to the South American country of Bolivia. The group was a mix of students studying environmental engineering or exercise physiology.
The main purpose of the journey to Bolivia was for students to conduct various scientific studies. Dr. Fitzgerald led the exercise physiology students in conducting research on the effects of high altitude on a person's body and oxygen saturation levels. During the trip, the participants were consistently at an elevation of 14,000 to 16,000 feet. At Saint Francis, the elevation is about 2,000 feet. Therefore, the oxygen levels in the air were much lower in Bolivia than what students were accustomed to at home. Testing was done on the participants prior to, during, and immediately following the trip to Bolivia. These tests showed the effects of living and working at high altitude as well as how the body and oxygen saturation levels change upon returning to a lower elevation after becoming accustomed to the high elevation.
Get Involved! “EXPO” is the student exercise physiology club. The purpose of this organization is to represent all exercise physiology majors and the university community by providing information and services associated with the profession of exercise physiology. Not only can you join a social club to talk about all things Exercise, but also to serve as a fund raising and outreach organization for the major. Membership is open to all currently enrolled full-time students. In addition to participating in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine and the Academic College Bowl, Expo also participates in fund-raising events such as...
The Run with LoRusso 5K, which is held in the spring, raises money to support the trip to the National ACSM meeting, as well as other special projects or events we may wish to have, such as inviting speakers to campus. Plus it’s a lot of fun!
Who is the fittest on campus? The Exercise Physiology Club holds an annual Fitness Games competition. The competition consists of a team made up of four members to compete in a Cross-fit style manner. The events are physically demanding so being crowned the fittest is not easy. Prizes are awarded and music and entertainment is provided.
Rhonda Watts enjoying her Strength and Conditioning internship experience at the DeGoll Fitness Center.
Rhonda is now a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Exercise Physiologists may practice in a variety of settings, with most positions requiring experience with hands-on skills. Classroom courses aim to develop a knowledge base in Exercise Physiology and to improve analytical skills. The main objectives for the internship/practicum are for students to further develop their problem-solving abilities, their interpersonal communication skills, and to become ready to seek full-time employment. Internship/practicum education is a vital part of the total curriculum.
In order for students to be educated as Exercise Physiologists they must be competent in a variety of settings.
The Saint Francis Exercise Physiology program offers site assignments in the following areas:
DiSepio Institute for Rural Health & Wellness is state-of-the art 30,000 square foot education and research center provides a clinical training area for students as well as an outreach services for under-served rural populations near the university. It houses a student health center, rehabilitation services, a human performance lab. fitness and spiritual wellness areas, and conference facilities.
The DiSepio Institute's Human Performance Lab (HPL) is a state-of-the-art facility offering the latest in physical fitness assessments. Through a combination of cutting-edge technologies and world class multidisciplinary experts, including exercise physiologists and physical therapists, the HPL enables individuals to attain their maximum physical conditioning. Using a preventative model of care combined with in-depth assessment tools, the HPL staff can help people of all-ages accomplish their goals by clearly identifying their current health and fitness status and establishing a road map forward.
The Hugs United Spring Break Mission Trip is comprised of a dedicated group of volunteers of students, faculty, and alumni head to the Dominican Republic to work closely with an orphanage and provide much needed love and support. A team that includes students from Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physician Assistant Science, Nursing, and Education departments help administer health services for patients and children. It is exciting to see so many of our students dedicate their break to providing medical service in this truly blessed service-learning opportunity.
Exercise Physiology Student Shaelyn Parry taking a blood pressure at the diabetes clinic for patients with diabetes in Anconcito, Ecuador. Along with blood pressure, students checked blood glucose levels, and did eye and foot checks. That day, the group was able to help 57 people, which was a record high for the diabetes club in Anconcito. This trip occurred in March 2020
Soccer picture: The 2020 group from SFU decided to play a soccer game at the local park in Anconcito, and by the end of the night, they had children from the community coming to join them.
Saint Francis Exercise Physiology Students and Faculty have spent a semester at our campus in Ambialet France. The most recent participants were Mattie Bossler and Laken Hill. In the pictures below they are attending the Carnival and Parade in Albi, the closest large city to Ambialet. Just before Spring Break students spend 5 days in Paris. Obviously, the Eiffel Tower is tops on the list!
Carnival in Albi.
Paris at night from the deck of the Eiffel Tower
“The Exercise Physiology major at Saint Francis University has provided me superior preparation on the path to becoming a physician. In addition to the strong core science education, this experience has given me employable, clinical, and interpersonal skills that a health care professional must embody. Of equal importance, I participated in several research opportunities, including designing my own research study that was presented at the American College of Sports Medicine’s national meeting. I highly recommend this path for anybody considering a future in the health care field.”
“I feel that my experience at Saint Francis University set me up to excel in grad school and gave me an advantage over the other students. I found that I had a superior knowledge of anatomy and physiology.”
“After seeing my classmates struggle through grad school with the lab techniques and the other components, I have realized what a great education I received at Saint Francis and shows that it really prepared me.”
“My times at SFU were some of the best years of my life. After being undecided on a major for many years and not sure that Exercise Physiology was right for me, I can definitively say that I am happy with where I am as a Graduate student and I have my education from SFU to thank for that. The Exercise Physiology program at SFU is one of a kind and those coming in are only going to have better things to say.”
“Knowledgeable professors, difficult subject matter and high achievement standards all contributed to attaining the necessary knowledge to succeed. Teachers always had an open door and were willing to assist students.”
“My undergraduate education was exceptional at preparing me for PT school. The rigor of the undergraduate program prepared me for a challenging PT graduate program at Saint Francis University. My professors were not only knowledgeable in Exercise Physiology and at their profession, but also how to relate to college students by presenting stimulating ideas and engaging lectures and labs that prepared me to earn certifications and easily transition to graduate studies.”
“As a fitness professional, I can confidently say that the Exercise Physiology program at Saint Francis University has more than prepared me for a successful career in the realm of health and fitness. The professors ensure that students not only know the material, but that they are also able to apply it to future career or graduate school settings.”
“I use what I learned at SFU regularly as a Strength and Conditioning Coach. The Exercise Physiology Program at SFU prepares you for life.”
“I can truly say one of the best things to happen to my life and career was attending SFU and obtaining my degree in Exercise Physiology. The Exercise Physiology program was everything I thought and more. The ability to learn and grow in a field that I was passionate about proved beneficial.”
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