Exercise Science Study Using Labfront and Garmin
It’s not every day that you hear of undergraduate students forging into the world of research, and bravely adopting new technologies to do so! We were fortunate enough to interview both study PI Shane Scholten as well as undergraduate researcher Colten Brand to gain insights on their exercise science study using Labfront and the Garmin Forerunner 245 and Garmin Forerunner 45.
What inspired you to pursue this study?
[Colten] In addition to doing research at Augustana and Sanford, the two places where I work, I also run on the Augustana cross country and track and field teams. I've worn GPS watches and Garmin watches for most of my life being an athlete. And so this topic just kind of fit with me being an exercise science major, looking to do research, and being a runner.
[Shane] I’d also like to interject here to share that last year, due to Colten’s high academic achievements, he was the recipient of a very competitive research grant open to any undergraduate student in the state of South Dakota. He worked on a different project at that time, it was in the human performance research lab with me, and that research is under review right now, to ultimately have it published in a peer-reviewed paper. So I think that's where some of the inspiration for this research started.
Had you used Garmin in research projects before this study?
[Shane] Certainly familiar with wearables and with Garmin devices specifically, however research-wise, this is a new frontier for me.
[Colten] I have not done any research using Garmin watches before this study, no. I have just used them for my own personal use for around 10 years now.
Was the entire study conducted remotely?
[Colten] For the initial recruitment and onboarding phase, a lot of that was done face to face. Once the participants had successfully set up their accounts and joined, the rest of the study was conducted remotely.
Did your participants train every day for the entire month?
[Colten] It varied depending on their age and experience running. For example, those on my college team run basically every day during pre-season, but as for the high school students, they may have taken a day or two off here and there. We didn’t monitor their training schedules too closely, we just know that they trained almost daily.
Were there any challenges that you faced throughout this study?
[Shane] A big challenge that we didn't anticipate was that some of the younger teenage athletes did not have cell phones. A workaround was that they used their parents’ phones to complete the surveys and upload their data.
Did you experience any difficulties with the data analysis portion?
[Colten] We didn't really have many challenges on the physiological data collection side of things. Labfront really helped us out in that department. We were able to download all of the data in this one folder which was well-organized. Then we used Excel to enter and analyze the data from those spreadsheets. It really was very efficient in the way that it was structured; I feel like it was designed exactly how I would have designed it myself.
Any interesting findings you’d like to share?
[Colten] Well we haven't met with a professional statistician yet to do some more in-depth analysis, but we did some preliminary correlation. We observed that objective and subjective measures correlated significantly with sleep, but not with the body battery or the stress score.
Additionally, we did some descriptive statistics, and our study found that 61.5% of participants have eight hours of sleep or more. The national average, in contrast, states that 22.1% of high school students have an average sleep of eight hours or more. This was an interesting statistic for us to see as it's quite opposite to the national average.
Did you find it helpful to have the survey tool integrated into the app?
[Colten] Yeah, that was extremely helpful. That was actually one of the integrations that I was very excited about using in the app. We were able to avoid sending out Google Forms or having to merge all of the data as it was already well-organized in participant folders.
Colten, as an undergraduate student, do you have any suggestions or recommendations to fellow undergrads interested in venturing into the world of physiological data collection?
[Colten] I would say a big ‘do’ for using Labfront and the wearables is to know exactly what your study is calculating. Find out what goes into calculating metrics like stress and body battery, for example. The information is available, you just need to do a bit of research beforehand.
I would say one ‘don't’ is to not get caught up with all of the information wearable technology is providing you. For example, your watch will offer you tons of different metrics to collect, which can be overwhelming and unnecessary for your study. Do not get caught up in the additional data metrics if you don’t need them; just keep it streamlined and focus on what you want to focus on.
What are your next steps for this research?
[Colten] I just presented at the Sanford Summer Research Symposium, and I will be presenting this research at the Northland chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine, the spring research meeting. And then I’ll also be presenting at the Augustana Research Symposium, which is our Campus Research Symposium, and that's also in the spring, too.
Well we know we’re very excited to follow Shane and Colten’s progress and to stay tuned for the next phase of their research!
Labfront is a global startup specializing in health data analytics. It is currently disrupting academic health research through its Labfront platform, a code-free digital biomarker collection and analytics solution. With the recent explosion of sensors in the scientific community, Labfront is helping health researchers process the overwhelming amount of complex data and transition to the data-rich future.