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College of Health and Human Sciences

Heinrich earns NIH grant to investigate high-intensity functional training in Army personnel

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Katie Heinrich, assistant professor of kinesiology, has been awarded an investigator-initiated grant from the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases for more than $2.52 million.

The purpose of the study is to test the effects of high-intensity functional training compared to usual Army physical readiness training on changes in body composition, health and fitness among active duty military personnel.

Katie Heinrich

Katie Heinrich

Heinrich is co-principal investigator on the grant with Carlos Poston from the National Development and Research Institutes, Institute of Biobehavioral Health Research, in Leawood. Craig Harms, head of the kinesiology department in the College of Human Ecology, is a co-investigator. The grant also provides opportunities for graduate and undergraduate research in Heinrich's Functional Intensity Training Lab.

Heinrich and her team will be working closely with the Command and General Staff College and Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth.

"Research on the best methods to achieve optimal physical fitness within the new Total Force Fitness paradigm is a top priority of the Department of Defense health and fitness community," Heinrich said. Current physical fitness standards in the Army Physical Readiness Training program and the Army Physical Fitness Test have been judged inadequate for promoting soldiers' ability to meet the demands of combat and modern military operations because they fail to achieve important Total Force Fitness goals.

High-intensity functional training, which Heinrich calls a promising exercise training approach, has gained popularity among military populations because of its potential for delivering improved performance, for aerobic, anaerobic and muscle endurance, and for greater strength outcomes with substantially lower training volumes.

It could also address the increasing problem of overweight and obesity in the military because of its potential for promoting fat loss, especially through increased postexercise fat metabolism, Heinrich said.

"We expect the high-intensity functional training program to be well-received by participants, due to the shared experience of workouts that are constantly varied and challenging. We feel that this type of program will better prepare soldiers for combat-relevant fitness demands," Heinrich said.

Study results have implications for the training of other occupational groups and may eventually be applied in the treatment of different disease states such as chronic heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes.

This article was posted on Tuesday, September 2, 2014, and is filed under College News, Kinesiology.