HEART Lab Exercise Program Shows Healthy Results

Positive preliminary findings from the first faculty-led exercise intervention pilot study prompt further research.

“Our pilot group had terrific results in a short time period. In just four weeks, preliminary findings indicate drops in blood pressure, total cholesterol, and triglycerides. Vascular health measures and overall fitness markers also improved,” said Deborah Feairheller, assistant professor of health & exercise physiology and director of the HEART Lab at Ursinus College.

Over the summer, Feairheller led a group of eight adults through an at-home circuit exercise intervention program—the first of its kind at tUrsinus. Founded in 2013, with doors officially opened in January 2014, the HEART (Hypertension and Endothelial function with Aerobic and Resistance Training) lab examines the effects of lifestyle modifications on cardiovascular health, with a focus on exercise interventions aimed at improving health, increasing adherence to exercise, as well as reducing weight and cardiovascular risk.  

“The exercises in our current research program include simple practices like balance, climbing stairs, carrying objects over a distance, and core strengthening. The program is specifically designed to be functional—participants can do it anywhere,” she said.

Promising preliminary results have precipitated the continuation of the study into 2016.

People love the program since it is low-impact and can be done anywhere. “We’ve received reports of increased energy levels, weight loss, better stamina for activities such as climbing stairs and an increased sense of overall well-being. We’re looking forward to continuing the study. In fact, we’re currently recruiting study participants,” added Feairheller.

The continuing exercise intervention study will include adults that do not have cardiovascular disease or diabetes. Participants may be currently inactive or active. For a comparison group, Feairheller is recruiting adult volunteer firefighters as well. If interested in participating in the study, individuals may contact the HEART Lab at

Feairheller joined the Ursinus community in 2013. She teaches CIE, Current Trends in Health, Exercise Physiology, Principles and Practices of Exercise Assessment and Research Methods in Health and Human Performance. As director of the HEART Lab, she mentors and collaborates with students through an active clinical research laboratory.