KINGSTON — Middle-age women in the community who are not avid weight trainers but might be interested in the benefits resistance training provides are being sought for a University of Rhode Island Department of Kinesiology research study.

The study will examine the physiological and psychological responses to weight training programs in middle-aged women.

Study participants will complete resistance training sessions, half using standard weight training machines and half using the TONAL system, a technology-based resistance training system with a digital weight system that uses magnets and electricity, according to Associate Professor Christie Ward-Ritacco, who is conducting the study with Associate Professor Disa Hatfield and Professor Deborah Riebe, who also serves as associate dean of the College of Health Sciences.

Participants’ physical activity level, body composition, muscle strength and quality, physical function and dietary intake will be assessed before, during and after the program. They will receive information about their physical fitness levels, and answer questions about their quality of life, mood, fatigue levels, self-efficacy for exercise, and exercise enjoyment at different times throughout the program.

“Weight training is equally beneficial for men and women but the participation rates for women is far below that of men, especially in middle age,” Ward-Ritacco said. “Part of this study is trying to figure out why women in that age group are less likely to engage in weight training, and could one of the modes we are using increase someone’s enjoyment of that activity.”

The researchers, along with two graduate students, will compare lifting weights using traditional machines commonly found in an average gym, and compare the results to weight training using the TONAL system in the Health Fitness Laboratory at URI. They will also examine how people feel before and after each exercise session, and determine how resistance training affects how individuals feel from an energy and fatigue perspective.

“Everybody knows that exercise is good for them, but very few people do it regularly and long term,” Ward-Ritacco said. “We’re trying to figure out what are the barriers of people engaging in resistance training and continuing in that activity. We want to see what levels of physical enjoyment women have using these different types of resistance training equipment. We theorize that increased enjoyment is associated with increased adherence.”

The researchers have begun screening candidates to begin the study within the next couple weeks. Potential participants can apply here. Women are qualified to participate if they are 40-64 years of age, can safely participate in physical activity, have not participated in a resistance training program two or more times per week during the past 12 months, and are not currently pregnant or planning to become pregnant during the study duration. Participants must have been female at birth or have been medically transitioning for at least one year.

The study will take place over 10 weeks, with participants attending three in-person weight training sessions per week for eight weeks. Pretraining and post-training testing sessions take place in the week before and after the training sessions. Participants will also wear a physical activity monitor on their hip for 7 days during all waking hours at the start, middle and end of the study, and will use a computer program to record dietary intake on two weekdays and one weekend day. Participants can earn up to $150 with completion of the study.

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