The latest issue of the International Journal of Sport, Exercise and Health Research includes a research manuscript titled “The Impact of Cell Phone Functions on the Intensity and Liking of Bike Exercise” (available online). The authors of the research include recent Hiram graduates Lauren Caldwell ‘20 and Kaitlyn Morse ‘20, who conducted this research while students at Hiram with their professors Mallory Kobak, Ph.D., assistant professor of integrative exercise science, and Michael Rebold, Ph.D., assistant professor of integrative exercise science and program director.

“We came up with this investigation as a group effort,” says Kobak. “Our research students noticed many Hiram College students using their cell phones while exercising and wanted to investigate how that behavior effected their exercise intensity.” To gather data on how cell phone use can impact exercise, the researchers randomly divided college-aged participants into four groups, including a control group. Three of the participant groups rode an exercise bike while using a cell phone for an assigned function, either listening to music, texting or talking on the phone. Participants had their vitals monitored, and they were asked to rate their enjoyment of the exercise. At the end of the study, the researchers concluded that “using your cell phone for texting and talking instead of listening to music can interfere with bike exercise, resulting in reduced exercise intensity and enjoyment, and perceiving exercise to be more difficult than what it really is.”

This study is a follow-up to another study that Rebold and Kobak conducted while doctoral students at Kent State University. That study focused on the impact of cell phone use while exercising on a treadmill. “Our initial study proved that we cannot multi-task with our cell phones while trying to engage in treadmill exercise unless it is only used for music purposes,” says Rebold. “This current investigation proved that to be true as well, but this was surprising because bike exercise does not require as much attention and coordination.”

With the research concluded and now published, Morse and Caldwell look back on the experience as valuable for their chosen career paths. Both students acted as research assistants throughout the study, working directly with Kobak and Rebold to learn how to conduct research and then recruited the participants and collected the data. “I had to complete research and write a research paper in PA school,” says Morse. “Doing the research I did in undergrad helped me write my paper and feel confident in my work.” Morse is in her second year of a physician assistant program at the University of Mount Union. She will be starting her clinical rotations later this summer with the goal of specializing in orthopedics or emergency room medicine in the future.

“This whole experience was very beneficial, because I was able to learn how to explain research in terms that everyone would understand,” says Caldwell, who is finishing her first year in a Doctor of Physical Therapy program, also at Mount Union. She will be starting clinical rotations this summer and is considering specializing in geriatric physical therapy or orthopedics.

Faculty in the integrative exercise science program have future plans for research, this time analyzing the impact of a cell-phone-based intervention program relating to both physical and mental health. Kobak and Rebold will continue to include Hiram students in their research. “Both Mallory and I strongly believe in getting our students involved in the research process since they will have the opportunity to develop skills that they do not have the opportunity to develop in the classroom,” says Rebold. “These skills are what separates our students from other students when applying to graduate school programs and for employment opportunities.”

Learn more about Hiram’s integrative exercise science program.