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Skidmore College

A better way to exercise

September 23, 2014

With the help of 57 volunteers who hit the Skidmore gym, track and playing fields just about every morning for 16 weeks, Skidmore College exercise scientist Paul Arciero has generated international attention with a study that challenges conventional thinking about exercise.

Originally published in The Journal of Applied Physiology, the study — which showed that the quality of your exercise and diet regimen is more important in losing weight and maintaining optimal weight and fitness — has been picked up by numerous news organizations and health-oriented Web sites, including Health.comShape,  China Radio International,  Time.com,  Science Daily,  Prevention, and  Outside.

Paul Arciero
Paul Arciero

Arciero's team — which included six Skidmore students who served as exercise monitors and mentors — showed the clear benefits of a multi-dimensional exercise regimen that includes resistance exercise, interval sprint exercise, stretching (including yoga or pilates), and endurance exercise. They also demonstrated that consuming moderate amounts of protein — 60 grams daily — produces a decrease in total and abdominal fat, an increase in lean body mass, and optimal levels for blood pressure, blood glucose, and insulin.

For Arciero, the study, which he conducted between 2010 and 2012, was the culmination of research he has conducted and published over the last 20 years in an attempt to identify the most effective lifestyle strategies to improve health and physical performance. To make the regimen easy for the public to remember, Arciero has coined the acronym, “PRISE.” The “P” stands for protein, the “R” stands for “resistance,” the “I” stands for “interval,” the “S” stands for stretching, and the “E” stands for endurance.  (More details.) 

Among those volunteering for the study was Saratoga County District Attorney James A. Murphy III. Up to that time, he had been doing all of his exercising on an elliptical machine — a routine he notes was “monotonously going nowhere.”

Today he’s a PRISE convert. He runs in the Fleet Feet distance program, rows with the Saratoga Rowing Association, practices yoga, and regularly trains with weights.

“I feel better, have more energy, and have a totally different lifestyle,” he says. “Had I not experienced the changes myself, I would not have believed how much the PRISE regimen can help just about anyone lose weight, boost energy and increase their overall health.”  

Other study participants saw similar results.  Consider:

  • Frank Florio, an executive with Saratoga Springs-based Ashland Water Technologies, lost 22 pounds and reduced his waist size by two inches. “My overall body strength improved and my entire body felt limber.  My sleep improved and I went about my daily activities with more energy. I would describe my participation as focused, committed, productive, and passionate.”
  • After 30 years of running and increasingly suffering its damaging effects, Dorothy Rogers-Bullis, president of Saratoga Springs-based drb Business Interiors, found PRISE to be the perfect alternative. “Paul taught me to change it up a bit,” she says. “He introduced me to yoga, in which I am now very much involved. I take a day off here and there and still really enjoy my workouts.”
  • PRISE was the impetus that prompted Saratoga Springs resident Greg Loan to start regular bike-riding and going to dance movement classes and polka dances. The experience has “tremendously helped my attitude and physical well-being,” he says.

The study supports a rethinking of current assumptions about exercise, says Arciero, a  member of the advisory board of the American Heart Association and a fellow of both the American College of Sports Medicine and the Obesity Society.

“It’s very difficult to just lift weights, or only do the treadmill or the elliptical machine and be healthy,” says Arciero. ”Your exercise regimen needs to encompass as much of what makes you a fully integrated living person as possible.”

“It’s not about simply doing more exercise,” he continues. “It’s about doing the appropriate range of exercises and activities that most effectively promote health and fitness.”

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