In The News: February 2008

NSPF Funds Research On Exercise For Diabetics

The National Swimming Pool Foundation has awarded a grant to a West Virginia University researcher to study the health benefits of aquatic exercise for people with diabetes. Guy Hornsby, Ph.D., CDE, of the West Virginia University School ofMedicine, Morgantown, W.V., will receive $49,697 for research into the psychological and physiological effects of landbased exercise compared to water-based exercise on patients with type-2 diabetes.

While exercise is a key component in preventing and controlling type-2 diabetes, compliance is often an issue with this population. "The dropout rates are high. At three months, about one-third of any group will quit because they don't enjoy the form of exercise," says Hornsby. Because type-2-diabetes patients are often obese, Hornsby postulates that aquatic exercise may increase success with an exercise program. "We will be working with two groups of 16 patients and hope, at the end of 12 months, to see positive fitness and health results from both the water- and land-based patients, and we anticipate a higher level of enjoyment from the water-based group," Hornsby says.

The study will include patients aged 18 to 65; 16 will enroll in a 12- month, land-based fitness program that includes typical combinations of treadmill walking, weight training and stretching. Another 16 patients will enroll in the water-based program with a similar combination of training, including deep-water running, strength training and stretching. Monitoring in both groups will be typical for patients with diabetes including glucose and insulin levels, A1C, cholesterol, blood fats, body composition, fat loss and muscle gain. In addition, patients will take a battery of psychological tests to see what their levels of enjoyment or dislike are for the exercises.

"It is our expectation that results will point to water exercise as a positive exercise modality for people with type-2 diabetes," says Hornsby. "Our goal is to improve their compliance to the standard prescription guideline of exercise and diet. We have a tremendous opportunity to change the course of peoples' lives and turn around what is now an epidemic that can lead to serious long-term complications," he says.

Historically, NSPF grants have focused on prevention of injury and disease. Beginning in 2004, the NSPF board directed that it fund prevention and health-benefit research at similar levels.

Pool/Spa Safety Act Now Law

After many months of deliberation, Congress approved the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act. With minor exceptions, the bill is materially the same as the bill that passed the Senate unanimously last year but narrowly failed in the House. The bill was incorporated as Title IV of the omnibus energy bill that became law in mid-December.

In establishing a federal safety grant program for the states, the bill promotes suction entrapment prevention and layers of protection barrier requirements as part of a broad package of child pool and spa safety legislation. Gene Fields, chairman of the board of directors of APSP - which backed the legislation - said, "We at APSP believe this bill presents excellent, effective guidance in pool and spa safety regulation to state and local governments. This is a big step forward in helping to protect consumers."

The bill's provisions regarding suction entrapment are entirely consistent with the new ANSI/APSP-7 American National Standard for Suction Entrapment Avoidance. The anti-entrapment standard requires all swimming pools and spas to be outfitted with proper anti-entrapment drain covers and circulation and drainage systems. "If adhered to, the new standard will largely eliminate all future risk of suction entrapment," said Bill Weber, APSP President & CEO. "Consistent with the new law, APSP is actively supporting adoption of the standard at the state and local level."

Hot-Water Immersion Study At Mid-Point

Dr. Bruce Becker of Washington State University released a progress report on the two-year Hot Tub Immersion study that was co-funded by the NSPF and 12 industry leaders.

Initial findings show that warm-water immersion appears to have a significant effect on the autonomic nervous system. That effect seems to enhance the balance between parasympathetic (relaxation) and sympathetic components of the system.

These changes were consistent across all subjects tested, and Becker feels it is very likely that that these nervous system effects have positive health-related implications. "To be able to obtain such a profound relaxation effect so quickly and so consistently was quite amazing to our research group," he says. The study also shows that heart rate rises during warm-water immersion, but not during cool or neutral immersion. Peripheral circulation was very significantly enhanced during both the neutral- and warm-water immersions.

This effect was far greater than could be explained by the rise in heart rate, according to Becker. The research team will report complete findings of the study at the 2008 World Aquatic Health Conference, scheduled for Oct. 15-17, in Colorado Springs, Colo.

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