Kinesiology graduate students work toward healthier futures for pregnant women and newborns

This summer graduate students Brenna Menke and Samantha Henry have begun their second year of studies in the Kinesiology program by researching newborn babies and toddlers. As graduate assistants for Dr. Rachel Tinius, Menke and Henry have been able to participate in a research study designed to measure the effects of exercise during pregnancy on the health of newborn babies. They hope their research will help to set a new standard for physical activity guidelines for pregnant women and young children.

The students use a device called a “PeaPod” to assist one another with their respective research areas – Menke on newborn infants, and Henry on toddlers at later stages of the project. The device records weights and measurements of the children to determine their growth and body composition levels.

“The conversations we get to have with participants during their study visits are encouraging and I hope the results from our study will help continue the conversation on how beneficial physical activity is during pregnancy,” said Menke.  Henry concurred, “Exercise and physical activity provide so many important health benefits, that incorporating it properly at younger ages may help children to grow up into healthier adults.”

Menke said her interest in Exercise Science came at an early age. “With an early interest in research during my time at a technical career high school, I wanted to continue learning how to conduct research in college. Many of the topics I looked at in high school were inspired by my passion for kids and from conversations with my mom who is a pediatrician,” she said.

Henry was excited to study a population she had never had a chance to work with before. “I have had the opportunity to work with high school students, elderly populations, cancer patients, and both professional and collegiate athletes, but never directly with young children or women during pregnancy. I am excited to see what I will learn from this experience.”

Both students agree that working together has enhanced the research experience. “Working with Sam has taught me the importance of communication and finding a balance to ensure study visits go smoothly,” said Menke, “The relationship built over the last year has enhanced our performance in the classroom and collaboration within our research.” 

Posted with permission from WKU News