Laboratory Techniques in Stress Physiology

EXSC 553,   5 Credits

Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Health Sciences


Professors: Dr. Leo D’AcquistoOffice hours: open door

Phone: 509-963-1909 (LD) or “ -1338 (RP)


The general intent of this course includes the following:


(1) To experience and attain competence in a variety of physiological and anthropometric assessments,

(2) To understand the theoretical principles underlying various measurement techniques

(3) To be aware of the many interrelated factors associated with measurement of human structure and function at rest and during exercise, and

(4) To integrate your understanding of exercise physiology, statistics and research design through your experiences in assessing various physiological and anthropometric parameters.


Some procedures will measure the morphological characteristics or physiological responses of the human at rest.  Other assessments will place various systems under the stress of exercise with the resultant measurements intended to provide a better understanding of the physiological responses to exercise and the potential mechanisms for adaptation to regular exercise.


Learner outcomes of this course include:


(1) Be able to competently perform a variety of assessments of structure and function at rest and during exercise

(2) Understand the anatomical principles that govern the structure of the human body, and to understand the theory that underlies various morphological assessment techniques

(3) Understand the physiological principles that control the functioning of the human at rest and during exercise, and understand the theory that underlies various physiological assessment techniques

(4) Illustrate the ability to apply statistics and research design by completing data analyses and by recognizing the multitude of factors that may invalidate research findings. 









Laboratory content:


1.  Body temperature.   Examination of core and skin temperatures during exercise.



2. Resting metabolic rate

Determination of energy expenditure while participant is at rest.

Indirect calorimetry

Open circuit spirometry

-Metabolic cart / Meteorological Balloon Analysis



3. Substrate utilization during exercise Determination of whole body carbohydrate and fat oxidation during exercise of varying intensities.


4. Spirometry

Assessment of lung volumes and capacities.


Bell spirometry

Automated spirometry


5.  Analysis of body composition. Estimation of lean body mass and percent adipose tissue.


Skinfold thickness

Body densitometry

Bioelectrical impedance


6.  Aerobic capacity.Estimation of maximal aerobic capacity from submaximal work.  Direct measurement of maximal aerobic capacity through expired air analysis.




7.  Measurement of whole body efficiency/economy.

Cycle ergometry

Treadmill running  (if time permits)





8.  Blood lactate response to exercise 







Exercise Physiology: Energy, Nutrition and Human Performance   McArdle, Katch and Katch,

5th ed. 2002


You will also receive literature (review articles, original investigations) throughout the quarter.


Be resourceful. You have other resources,……texts and articles (library, PubMed etc….)





1.  An introductory lecture and a description/demonstration of the assessment method will typically be presented on  Monday and Wednesday of each week.  You will work as a group (s) and will begin assessment procedures when the appropriate background information has been completed.  Schedule at least four hours of time to complete data collection (Thursday afternoon is reserved for data collection, 1-5 p.m.).  Please make sure to read the lab prior to Thursday.


2.  Every member of the group will participate in testing, both as a subject and tester.   Working together is a key component of this class and repetition is an integral part of the learning process.


3.  Presentation of results often includes some form of data analysis in order to generalize.  Individual data are to be available for dissemination to all class members by 11:00 a.m. on Friday.  Any calculations in order to obtain final values must be completed by 11:00 a.m. on Friday.  **Friday’s class time is not reserved for doing last minute computations. Please take the time to double check your work prior to Friday’s class.


4.  Lab reports from each week’s activity will be due in class on Wednesday of the following week.  There will be a one grade level reduction for each tardy day.


5.  Do not miss any classes. Un-excused absences will result in point deductions (15 points per absence). If you are going to miss class for a valid excuse (i.e., attend a University related event, family / medical emergency) please let us know at the beginning of the quarter.  If you are sick and cannot make it to class, please communicate with us.










Laboratory report


You will prepare a report consisting of a title page (title of lab, name, date),  purpose statement,  results and answers to discussion questions.   (Note: do not include an introduction and methods section)




Laboratory findings will be presented as text, tables and figures.  You are expected to prepare manuscript ready tables and figures and associated text that highlights results.  You will be expected to describe your results using statistical language when appropriate.   You are expected to attach any computational and statistical work as an appendix.  All work must be neat and prepared via computer.  




You will address a series of discussion questions.  Answers need to clearly address the question, therefore, it is very important to read the question carefully and seek any clarification if needed.  You are expected to compare your findings to the literature.  You may use textbooks and review articles as references; however,  you are expected to incorporate into the discussion section at least (minimumthree original investigations.  When presenting original investigations, please highlight the following: purpose of study, subjects, brief insight into the design, and relevant findings and conclusions by the investigators, and make apparent how the investigation is related relevant to the discussion question being addressed.  You are strongly encouraged to elaborate on your response. It is perfectly fine to start off basic in your response and to subsequently layer more complex (in-depth) information as you develop your answer.


We are expecting a professional and well organized document.



Grading Scale,

Lab reports, 8 x 12.5 % = 100%


A         >93%

A-        >85-89.9

B+       >82-84.9

B          >78-81.9

B-        >75-77.9

C+       >70-74.9

C         >65-69.9

C-       >60-64.9

D        >55-59.9

F         Below 55