The Physiology of Human Performance

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FIG 39
Gary Diffee
The Physiology of Human Performance
Lecture 1, 9:30–10:45 TR
General Chemistry
Lecture 3, 3:30–4:20 MWF; Discussion 352, 9:55–10:45 WF; Lab 652, 11:00–2:00 R
Introduction to Kinesiology
Lecture 1, 2:25–3:15 TR

For many years, physiologists have used exercise as a way of studying the limits of human performance. An athlete running as fast as a human is capable of running, or lifting as heavy a weight as she can lift is an excellent way of observing the limits of performance. By studying physiological processes when they are being pushed to their limits, we can learn a lot about these processes—the regulation of the processes, the constraints that they operate under, and how processes may adapt to improve performance.

In Kinesiology 115: “The Physiology of Human Performance,” we will be exploring the factors that influence human performance in the context of exercise or performing other physical work. We will examine a number of case studies where the goal will be to determine what the physiological factors are that are limiting performance. We will consider cases of athletic performance, other work conditions, age and developmental issues, as well as injury or other pathological conditions, among many other cases.

We will also spend some class time in an Exercise Physiology laboratory where we will collect some data on subjects while they are exercising.  We will then use these data to determine some of the underlying physiological processes that are at work during different types of exercise.

The other two courses in this FIG are well matched with this small seminar class and provide many opportunities to integrate material across different subject areas.

Chemistry 103: “General Chemistry I” — Provides an understanding the basic chemical reactions that underlie many physiological processes and allows us to connect these two areas. How are our muscles’ ability to perform work ultimately limited by the underlying chemical reactions in the muscle?

Kinesiology 119: “Introduction to Kinesiology” — Allows us to place the physiology that we are exploring into the larger context of the field of kinesiology. How do people use the physiological responses to exercise to help understand the role of exercise and movement in health and disease?

Given the course subject matter that we will explore, as well as the paired courses, this FIG is an excellent learning opportunity for students who:

  • may want to explore a major in kinesiology;
  • may be interested in medical school;
  • have plans to study athletic training; physical or occupational therapy; or other allied health professions;
  • are interested in biology; or
  • have a general interest in learning more about exercise and/or physiology.