Carroll University’s own Daniel Shackelford, associate professor of exercise science, was recently asked to serve as a guest speaker for students in the prestigious Stewart Science Honors Program at Biola University in La Mirada, Calif.
To the students of the highly-selective and academically rigorous interdisciplinary four-year program, part of the experience is learning from a network of distinguished scientists and STEM leaders from around the world. That’s where Shackelford comes in. He specializes in exercise-based cancer rehabilitation, and was asked to give a presentation to the honors students about his field of study and just how he and others are using exercise as medicine for chronic diseased populations.
“Exercise can cure chronic diseases,” Shackelford says. Although exercise physiology and the human body are complex, it can often be boiled down to simply that.
“Exercise mimics the effects of drugs,” he explains. “It can naturally lower blood pressure, increase heart and immune system function, it improves quality of life. Almost every side effect of chronic disease can be negated by exercise.”
Those are the exact aspects of Shackelford’s expertise that he discussed with the students at Biola earlier this year in his presentation titled “Using Exercise as Medicine for Cancer and Chronic Diseases: Why We Need Accurate Assessments.” The Stewart Science Honors Program is built on a collaborative community of exceptional students and faculty, original research, and national leaders in STEM fields, and aims to produce innovative leaders in the sciences.
A key piece of Shackelford’s presentation, most critical to prescribing exercise as medicine and something Shackelford teaches his own students, is procuring a thorough baseline measurement of every system in the body, from the cardiovascular and muscular systems to the skeletal and nervous systems. Body composition is calculated, balance is tested, range of motion is measured, and all of it fits together to provide a precise prescription for exercise.
“That baseline measurement is so important,” Shackelford said. “We prescribe based on our findings.”
So what does that look like? It might mean prescribing a cancer patient to walk on the treadmill for 20 minutes at 3 mph twice a week, much how a medical professional might prescribe 50 milligrams of medication for other instances.
Shackelford is finishing his second academic year at Carroll. The Master of Science in Exercise Physiology (MEXP) program provides an innovative curriculum taught by faculty with a reputation of teaching excellence and innovation. Extensive hands-on experience both in and outside the classroom prepares MEXP graduates for future job success. The clinical focus of the program includes more than 700 hours of clinical internships and prepares graduates to immediately sit for the ACSM-CEP exam upon graduation.