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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Academics & Research

Team shifts into marathon mode for study

A UH lab team will work with the participants of the Austin Live Strong marathon to study the body’s susceptibility to illness.

The team, led by Brian McFarlin, an associate professor of exercise physiology, nutrition and immunology, will study runners for four weeks in February to observe the influence of running on immune systems.

The professor chose this particular time of year for his research because the body is more susceptible to illness during this time, and he aims to search for ways to reduce this.

“Marathon running is known to place significant stress on the body, which can result in depressed immune system function,” McFarlin said. “Since most marathons take place during typical cold/flu season, it is very common that runners get sick with these infections or other upper respiratory track infections in the weeks following the marathon.”

Sickness reduces work productivity and exercise capacity, McFarlin said.

McFarlin and his lab team are looking to recruit up to 400 participants of the marathon for the study.

After the participants finish the marathon, they will either take the supplement Biothera Wellmune, or a placebo for the duration of the study.

During that time, participants will record their symptoms and report them on a questionnaire, which will then be analyzed by the researchers.

“We anticipate that the Biothera Wellmune WGP supplement will improve immunity after the marathon and decrease the incident of URTI and cold/flu symptoms,” McFarlin said.

Biothera, an immune health company, commissioned the study.

The study will also encourage runners to take Wellmune or other supplements after running a marathon to reduce the illnesses that occur during this time.

“We are completing this study to attempt to combat this problem,” McFarlin said.

McFarlin and his lab team have conducted 55 other studies aimed at understanding exercise and the immune systems.

The most recent study conducted was on the ability of the Wellmune supplement to boost the immune system after running in a hot environment.

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