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Tuesday, November 13 • 1:00pm - 1:50pm
How to develop empathy during an exercise physiology lab experience

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In 2017, more than 20% of high school students in Kentucky were classified as obese, and adolescent and adult obesity rates in the U.S. continue to rise. Unfortunately, many healthcare practitioners perceive people with obesity as unmotivated, noncompliant, or lazy. These negative weight-based stereotypes from practitioners creates a poor client experience increasing feelings of low self-worth, increasing poor health behaviors from clients, and increasing avoidance of medical care. A faculty member at Murray State University wants to change the perception of obesity and physical activity within the Exercise Science program. She developed an empathy lab within the exercise physiology lab course. Selected students perform a series of activities of daily living and physical activities (e.g., tying their shoes, getting up from the floor, completing a step test, jogging on a treadmill, etc.). The lab partners record rate of perceived exertion (RPE), heart rate, and shortness of breath, as well as video record segments of each activity and record qualitative data such as perceived challenges encountered. The same selected students then put on either a weighted vest (20lb), a weighted fat vest (25lb) that mimics central obesity, or both; and repeat all the activities while their lab partners record the same measurements. After completing the lab, the students debrief with the instructor and then write a reflection for the lab experience, as it relates to awareness and empathy for people with obesity. The reflection addresses the emotional changes related to weight bias that took place during the lab, and the student’s plan to use empathy in their desired career when working with people with obesity to develop interventions that effectively address meaningful health behavior change in this population.


Priscilla Maghrabi

Assistant Professor, Murray State University

Brenda Reeves

Assistant Professor, Murray State University

Tuesday November 13, 2018 1:00pm - 1:50pm EST
Fayette Lecture Room

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