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starfox
02-09-2008, 13:10
I'm a medical student from East Carolina University in Greenville, NC and I'm hoping to get a grant from my school that would allow me to backpack the AT for most of my summer.

I am proposing to study whether or not there is a correlation between the change (increase) in physical health that hikers almost unavoidably experience on the AT and a change in mental/emotional/spiritual health that they may or may not experience.

The physical aspect would include things like: Weight, blood pressure, body mass index, and resting heart rate.

The other aspects would be measured by filling out a survey.

Both would be measured periodically as you progress along the trail.

For the thru-hikers, does this seem like something you guys might be interested in participating in?


Bryant

ScottP
02-09-2008, 13:29
Someone does a study like this every year or two.

It's really too tough to have proper controls and to get a good sample size. You really can't compare an alcoholic, pot smoking, yellow blazing, snickers and ramen takes-7-months to yellow blaze the AT to a health nut that thru-hikes in 3 months.

ChinMusic
02-09-2008, 13:50
The physical aspect would include things like: Weight, blood pressure, body mass index, and resting heart rate.

I love this stuff. VO2Max and Cholesterol would be good to add if possible. I plan on doing something along those lines for myself when the time comes. It is something I am interested in and will add to my fun.

Twofer did an anecdotal study on himself last year. http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=210054


Here are some of the results of my pre and post hike physical tests.

Pre hike weight - 176.8 lbs
Post hike weight - 158.5 lbs

Pre hike body fat - 18.7%
Post hike body fat - 14.1%
That's a 24.5% improvement.

Pre hike VO2 max - 31.4 ml/kg/min
Post hike VO2 max - 39.9 ml/kg/min
That's a 27% improvement.

The other big improvement was in my cholesterol which I mentioned earlier. I heard a news story yesterday talking about the ratio of bad to good cholesterol. Anything under 4 is pretty good. My pre hike ratio was 4.3 and my post hike ratio was 2.3
I really haven't put much weight back on yet so this past week I bought a pair of 30" waist pants. We'll see how long I'm able to wear them!

-Twofer

Bob S
02-09-2008, 14:21
Hey if you can get them to pay for your hike, go for it.

starfox
02-10-2008, 12:01
Do you know of any specific studies that have been done? Because I'm having a bit of a hard time finding studies in scientific literature. I plan to have the control be the person's change in physical health. Then I can measure my other variables against that, and hopefully it will even things out.

Toolshed
02-10-2008, 12:57
Do you know of any specific studies that have been done? Because I'm having a bit of a hard time finding studies in scientific literature. I plan to have the control be the person's change in physical health. Then I can measure my other variables against that, and hopefully it will even things out.
Can you define change in physical health that goes beyond anecdotal or do you mean non-scientific visible physical health?

Are you going to do periodic blood tests (lipid profiles, CBC, magnesium ....) (reliable) body mass tests, echo stress tests, physical exertion tests?
Just curious.

As far as "and a change in mental/emotional/spiritual health that they may or may not experience. " remember, as you thruhike, you will be changing with them, therefore if you are using your stasis as a benchmark, it could change.

Pedaling Fool
02-10-2008, 13:13
I'm a medical student from East Carolina University in Greenville, NC and I'm hoping to get a grant from my school that would allow me to backpack the AT for most of my summer.

I am proposing to study whether or not there is a correlation between the change (increase) in physical health that hikers almost unavoidably experience on the AT and a change in mental/emotional/spiritual health that they may or may not experience....
Does science observe spirituality?

orangebug
02-10-2008, 13:35
The idea of hiking along to determine how other hikers fair isn't very likely to work. You would limit your available population to a select few who started around the same time. You would not have a control population of flat landers. You might not even be correct about improvement in physical health, although several numbers might improve.

While I'm not a NC taxpayer, I'd suggest that you prepare a grant request with a study design that would include a broader population, if only to demonstrate changes in physical health. I'd suggest a person stationed at FS 42 to interview/weigh/sample hikers as they begin over a 3-6 week period. I'd encourage you to have other members of your team stationed at stopping points, such as Winding Stair Gap, Fontana Dam, Damascus and points north.

Of course, this would cost money and have limited interest from corporate grant writers. Federal grant writers would probably be even tougher.

Have you considered contacting the ATC to find out if they have any medically related research ongoing that you could participate with?

starfox
02-10-2008, 16:42
I think it will be tough to do stuff like lipid panels, but I'm checking into it with some of my professors. My money would be pretty limited (~$2800) so I think whatever measurements I make are going to have to be made cheaply.

With the mental/emotional/spiritual health - this is obviously much more subjective. I'll develop a survey which will ask questions mostly dealing with the persons perceived quality of life.

Unfortunately, I don't think that I'll be able to thru-hike this summer. But I think I can track people through the shelter logbooks and meet up with them at crossings or in towns.

starfox
02-10-2008, 16:45
yes. there are alot of scientific studies about the effects of a person's spirituality on that person's physical well-being. Science doesn't typically try to charactize the spirituality in terms of correctness, but that doesn't prevent it from observing its effects.

starfox
02-10-2008, 16:49
The idea of hiking along to determine how other hikers fair isn't very likely to work. You would limit your available population to a select few who started around the same time. You would not have a control population of flat landers. You might not even be correct about improvement in physical health, although several numbers might improve.

While I'm not a NC taxpayer, I'd suggest that you prepare a grant request with a study design that would include a broader population, if only to demonstrate changes in physical health. I'd suggest a person stationed at FS 42 to interview/weigh/sample hikers as they begin over a 3-6 week period. I'd encourage you to have other members of your team stationed at stopping points, such as Winding Stair Gap, Fontana Dam, Damascus and points north.

Of course, this would cost money and have limited interest from corporate grant writers. Federal grant writers would probably be even tougher.

Have you considered contacting the ATC to find out if they have any medically related research ongoing that you could participate with?

The grant is pretty small (<$3000). I can go down to springer a few different times and try to catch people as they start.

I won't be hiking the whole time, so I can figure out some strategic places and times to meet people and take measurements.

I emailed the ATC awhile back but didn't get any response.

Bearpaw
02-10-2008, 16:53
I am proposing to study whether or not there is a correlation between the change (increase) in physical health that hikers almost unavoidably experience on the AT and a change in mental/emotional/spiritual health that they may or may not experience.

While my weight went from 207 to 168 and my body fat from 16% to about 9%, my cholesterol went from 170 to 230. The high-fat diet needed to prevent outright starvation from such an extended trek can cause such issues with ease.

I was a very muscular Marine 2 months out of the Corps when I started in March '99. When I finished in September '99, I was a wasted little pipsqueek. Don't assume the physical changes are all positive.

Spiritually, I felt GREAT however. Just not sure how you would measure it beyond the traditional questionnaire created with much peer review.

starfox
02-10-2008, 18:44
That is good to know. I'll have to keep that in mind as I figure out how I'm going to structure things.

Thanks.

Lugnut
02-10-2008, 20:06
I think Lion King was involved in some study of this nature. PM him on this site.

ScottP
02-11-2008, 03:04
there was a study conducted by a man staying at the hiker hostel last year. You could try contacting Josh and Leigh (www.hikerhostel.com)

Lion King
02-12-2008, 00:05
I'm a medical student from East Carolina University in Greenville, NC and I'm hoping to get a grant from my school that would allow me to backpack the AT for most of my summer.

I am proposing to study whether or not there is a correlation between the change (increase) in physical health that hikers almost unavoidably experience on the AT and a change in mental/emotional/spiritual health that they may or may not experience.

The physical aspect would include things like: Weight, blood pressure, body mass index, and resting heart rate.

The other aspects would be measured by filling out a survey.

Both would be measured periodically as you progress along the trail.




For the thru-hikers, does this seem like something you guys might be interested in participating in?


Bryant

I did this study with Baylor University in Dallas.

A before and after Physical which showed the benefits of long distance walking (PCT) as well as the obvious fact that walking is good for you.

6 months passed between the two physicals,

changes included:

Blood pressure stablized to a perfect level

all fatty tissue vanished from my liver

45 pound weight loss--which I refound, as I often do with my seasonal hiking addiction/off hikiung eating sprees----

resting heartbeat dropped 20 BPM

cholesterol was good before the hike and maintained a good level, BUT 'good' cholesterol was a little low after the hike

Hypertension..gone...

I didnt get a grant, but I did get two $2500 physicals free for the study, Tom Landry Baylor Wellness (Personal Edge) Center gets to use the results for any further studies or teaching.

So it all worked out for all of us.

August 2007 Backpacker had a small ass blurb about it.

oh yeah, and my body mass Index (Bone size) increased almost half an inch in hips and thighs. The Docs were pretty impressed with how thick my bones were pre-study when they ran me through the machine...they said I already had a bone thickness about 1/4 larger then normal for a person my size (Football player size), and that the reason was that I had done so much hiking previously.

The correlation with better spiritual and mental health is a given. If your body is stronger and healthier then you will feel better.

That and the amount of blood released in your body and oxygen plus the natural endorphines...it cant be beat!

Jan LiteShoe
02-12-2008, 00:20
While my weight went from 207 to 168 and my body fat from 16% to about 9%, my cholesterol went from 170 to 230. The high-fat diet needed to prevent outright starvation from such an extended trek can cause such issues with ease.


I've wondered about this too. Typically, the thru-hiker diet is loaded with trans-fats, sugar and processed food grabbed at convenience store stops or Oreo-and-Frito-grabbing expeditions at the supermaket.

Yes, you are exercising; but the ingestion of crap must have an effect. And you WILL crave crap!
:D

Jan LiteShoe
02-12-2008, 00:25
cholesterol was good before the hike and maintained a good level, BUT 'good' cholesterol was a little low after the hike


Yeah, that's what I wondered about.

Excellent report overall, esp. about the bone size and hypertension.

Nearly Normal
02-12-2008, 01:07
there was a study conducted by a man staying at the hiker hostel last year. You could try contacting Josh and Leigh (www.hikerhostel.com) (http://www.hikerhostel.com))

I met the guy at the hostel.
He was suppose to check the same hikers along the way. I assumed he was at trail days to follow up and again in Maine. Never saw a report on his findings. Be interesting to know what he found out.

redredrose
02-14-2008, 13:54
Passionphish and I are going thru this summer. We're both T2 diabetic. We already have base numbers in many of the areas you're going to be looking at. PM me if you want to discuss this further.

Twofiddy
02-15-2008, 00:12
I'm a medical student from East Carolina University in Greenville, NC and I'm hoping to get a grant from my school that would allow me to backpack the AT for most of my summer.

I am proposing to study whether or not there is a correlation between the change (increase) in physical health that hikers almost unavoidably experience on the AT and a change in mental/emotional/spiritual health that they may or may not experience.

The physical aspect would include things like: Weight, blood pressure, body mass index, and resting heart rate.

The other aspects would be measured by filling out a survey.

Both would be measured periodically as you progress along the trail.

For the thru-hikers, does this seem like something you guys might be interested in participating in?


Bryant


I think that if you were going to do this during the course of a hike that you are going to experience some difficulty with data collection as you will be hiking along with the flow of people.

Rather a study like this would be best completed if you picked, say 4 points along the trail, and staged your self for 5-10 days at one location, and asked each hiker that passed by your location for a blood sample, a hair sample, a skin fold test, and a urine sample. You would have to assign some kind of ID# to each person with a demographic sheet and ask five health questions that would give you a mental health indication.

Personally, I think that the cure to the common disease can be found in the body of a backpacker. When I finished my thru-hike, I was the picture of good health, (except for a few chronic over use sore spots). I also felt great, greatest feeling of my life the last 3 weeks, and the first month or so off the trail. Mental health was excellent, sex drive and performance was better than I have ever been, and I really felt great about anything and everything that happened.

Now I'm fat, out of shape, disgusted with me self again, and ready to hike again to cure all my problems.

If you want good data, offer to pay a few hikers $50 or so for completing 2 or 3 steps to your data collection process along the way (they dont get the $$ till they send in the third step)

Anyhow good luck.

Dogwood
02-15-2008, 01:06
R U SERIOUS? Do U really need to do a study to realize that an increase in physical health is correlated w/ increased mental, emotional, and spiritual well being??? Just eliminating or curtailing TV, cell phones, laptops, a stressful job, driving, being in large groups, overeating, etc. is going to effect your mental, emotional, and spiritual well being. Now, factor in sunshine, nature, less stress, eating less, not being exposed to the negative media, free-er lifestyle, and yes, increased physical activity and U have what amounts to a WHOLE lot of correlation!!! No study needed! But, hey, if U can get a grant and college credit for hiking the AT, more power to U.

refreeman
02-15-2008, 02:42
Gatorgumps last Post entry on TJ had some of his medical results.
http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=206376


Hi, many of you reading this had requested that i post my medical results.
On the diabetes aspect my sugar reading was very good even with all of the candy etc., that I ate while hiking.

With regard to the heart disease the news is not as positive. My cholesterol was 238, triglycerides were 439, HDL was 34, and LDL 116. I think i can say without hesitation that medication and extreme exercise are not enough, diet is probably the most important factor of all. While on the trail and especially when in town i ate the most fatty foods available. I always mixed my mash potatoes or pasta or ramen noodles with pepperoni and cheese etc. When in town i ate lots of ben and jerrys ice cream, beer, pizza, burgers, etc.

Toward the end of my hike the illness totally wore me out. I have done nothing but eat and sleep for the last 10 days. I lost close to 50 pounds and have regained 10 but still feel run down. I went to the gym for the first time today and can tell you that I am half the man i used to be. I feel the trail aged me; I honestly believe that if I had to go another 100 miles i could not have finished. My blood tests ruled out Lyme disease and hepatitus A but the stool test and heart doctor have yet to weigh in. I may yet have to go in for a stress test.

I can not bench press, curl, or run as much or as far as I could before i left. I have read past journals where others have returned feeling stronger and more fit than ever in their lives. Just the opposite for me, perhaps due to the Giardia.

BUT, even knowing all of this I would do it again. I am pleased with the end result and once again want to thank all who enjoyed the ride with me. My direct e-mail (which is working again) is gatoroz@sweetberries.com. If you have any other questions etc., feel free to write. I will continue to check in on my guest book periodically but this will be my last journal entry.

Twofiddy
06-04-2008, 16:19
I think that alot of what gator gumps posted is correct.

When I thru-hike again.

I am going to "healthy thru-hike"

Since I learned how to get pack weight and things down on my first hike, I'm going to learn how to do the trip in a very health manner the second time around. I'm going to eat more fresh food, less junk food, and eat good healthy meals when in town instead of meals loaded with fat and junkfood.

I will admit that for me, if the trail was 100 miles longer, that I might not have made it. The condra-malaysia(sp) in my right knee was killer. I could hardly walk the morning that I summited Katahdin.

If I died out there, it would not been that bad though. Some times I think about Recycled, and how he died doing something that he really loved. Thats the way to go. No pooping ur pants in a hospital bed in a smelly nursing home, just hike down the trail, and upon taking a step, just croke. That's how I'd like to go.

Aaron

4eyedbuzzard
06-04-2008, 16:45
...You really can't compare an alcoholic, pot smoking, yellow blazing, snickers and ramen takes-7-months to yellow blaze the AT to a health nut that thru-hikes in 3 months.

You are absolutely correct. Anyone who thru-hikes in 3 months and never has a drink, nor lights up a fatty, nor eats snickers(with BACON!) or Ramen, quite obviously has serious mental health issues. ;) :D

EDIT: Joking, of course...I think...maybe not...

Appalachian Tater
06-04-2008, 17:46
chondromalacia (http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&safe=off&q=chondromalacia+more:for_patients&cx=disease_for_patients&sa=N&oi=cooptsr&resnum=0&ct=col3&cd=1)

orangebug
06-04-2008, 21:28
Please, don't make volunteers cart your carcase out on a litter.

Kerosene
06-05-2008, 09:39
When you're done with the study, I'd just like to know how many calories a person carrying a backpack burns when climbing and descending. Obviously this is driven by the weight of the person and backpack, as well as the elevation gain, but I'd guess that the condition of the trail (rocky, slippery, graded, bouldering) would affect the results. People throw around the 6-7,000 calories per day figure, which seems way too high.