TIGER program trims the fat
The days of going to the gym in junior high and doing the same 25 jumping jacks and 50 sit-ups are in the past.
The UH Campus Recreation and Wellness Center has changed the way students exercise by offering students courses to stay physically fit through the Training Intervention Genetics of Exercise Response study program.
"TIGER study is a great program; it really helped me improve my life style physically, mentally and made me aware of some health risks that I need to know," health senior Sherail Jordan said.
The 30-week program is funded by the National Institutes of Health and was launched in fall 2003.
With this being the fifth and last year for the TIGER study, adjunct professor Molly Bray, who directs the program, is pushing for another five-year grant to continue on with the program.
According to the program’s Web site, the purpose of the TIGER study is "to investigate how variation in DNA sequence may influence levels of body fatness and fitness."
"I miss TIGER study because I worked out, and I feel much better," Fred Miller, a graduate research assistant, said when former students approach him at the Rec Center.
Bray, who is also an associate professor of pediatrics at the Baylor College of Medicine, formulated the study and began the program while in graduate school.
"(Students) sign up for the fall, and at the end, we tell them to come back in the spring," Miller said. "The majority don’t come back."
When TIGER study began, the program saw its "smallest group," Miller said. "Last year was the biggest class, about 400 to 420 students; today about 305 are active in the program."
Post-baccalaureate health student and TIGER study assistant Norah Vasen said the decline is because students are either graduating or deciding to take another course.
"I enjoyed (TIGER study) because I wanted a strict regiment of exercise, and I wanted to experience that," biology senior Aisha Khan said.
Khan and her sister, biology senior Sadia Khan, took the course together, and she said she likes the friendly staff. Khan said she would continue the study in the spring if she was not graduating in December.
TIGER is offered in the fall to all students regardless of their major. Students can choose between Fitness and Health (PEB 1101) or Public Health Issues in Physical Activity and Obesity (KIN1304).
Some of the differences in both courses is that PEB 1101 students meet at the Rec Center three days a week for an hour to work out and take fitness exams, such as blood pressure, blood test, X-rays, body composition and body fat. If students decide to stay in the program, the same fitness exams are given in the fall and spring.
Students that sign up for KIN 1304 report to the Garrison Gymnasium and take quizzes, attend lectures and have in-class workouts three times a week.
In the first two weeks of TIGER study, students take a skin fold test that calculates their body fat. Blood is also drawn from students to measure their cholesterol and glucose levels. Aside from the needle poking, students take a confidential psychological questioner to see when students are more prone to eat. A Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry or DEXA scan is used to get an exact percentage of body fat and bone density.
TIGER study students report to the second floor of the Rec Center and present their Cougar 1Card to an assistant. Students receive a heart rate monitors and workout tips from the staff.
With the quick scan of a specialized label on the back of the card, TIGER study assistants can pull a workout summary on their laptops for each of their students.
Communication sophomore Jennifer Batres said that with the help of TIGER she "exercises regularly as opposed to not doing it at all."
Batres enrolled in the program to make healthier choices and to become more active.
"(There have been) lots of successful people," Miller said. "Students leave with more confidence."
For more information, about the TIGER study program, students can visit www.uh.edu/tigerstudy or visit 105P Garrison Gymnasium.