Physician Assistant M.S.

Year Approved


First Advisor

Hopper, Don


Previous research is vast and varied regarding how exercise affects the physiology of the cardiac system. Many studies have found adverse effects to the heart in ultra-endurance athletes, but fewer studies have focused on overweight populations. Hamer and Boutcher (2006) observed abnormal post exercise cardiovascular changes in obese individuals when compared to individuals of normal body mass index (BMI) but, were unable to draw any definitive conclusions from the results. With Americans facing an obesity epidemic and healthcare providers increasingly prescribing regular exercise routines to combat it, definitive conclusions regarding the topic of healthy long-term exercise in overweight and obese individuals become important. The hypothesis of this study is if an individual 20-60 years old with BMI > 25 participates in a 5k race, then there will be evidence of a significant increase in cardiovascular strain compared to 20-60 year olds with BMI < 25. The purpose of the study is to determine if there is a correlation between high BMI and cardiovascular strain in individuals who participate in a 5k race. The study question is: what effect, if any, does distance running have on heart rate, blood pressure, and cardiovascular load of individuals with BMI ≥ 25 compared to individuals with BMI <25? Men and women ages 20-60 who have trained at least 5 hours per week for 4 weeks prior to the race will be studied. A pre- and post-race blood pressure and pulse was collected, cardiovascular load (CVL) was calculated, and data analyzed comparing those with BMI over and under 25. The results showed that there was no significant difference between the overweight and normal weight 5k runners. The conclusion of the study is that BMI is an inadequate differentiating factor. Body habitus, effort, training and timing of data collection all influence the final result. Further study is needed to evaluate differences in cardiovascular strain between groups.

Degree Name

Masters of Science in Physician Assistant

Document Type

Masterʼs thesis

Included in

Primary Care Commons