Miami premed student uses research on cardiometabolic health to promote exercise in the greater Oxford community
Alexandra Bagg ‘23 prepares for medical school through her analysis of the impacts that e-bikes have on older adults’ glucose levels.
Medical school has always been the plan for Alexandra Bagg, a senior Kinesiology major with a co-major in Pre-Medical Studies and a minor in Nutrition. Her passion for physical activity and exercise science pushed her to work for the past year alongside Helaine Alessio, professor and chair advisor within Miami’s College of Education, Health, and Society.
Bagg’s research experience as a 2022 Undergraduate Summer Scholar consisted of studying the changes in glucose levels of individuals who ride an electric bike to advocate for the importance of healthy habits within sedentary lifestyles.
“I was able to learn from Dr. Alessio and other professors about the steps in research, which has been one of the highlights of my experience,” Bagg said.
Throughout the whole process, Bagg practiced and enhanced real-world skills such as effective communication, understandable organization, and adaptive time management. Although she had taken part in some research in the past, this experience became a even more significant commitment.
Some of her responsibilities included:
- Recruiting participants for the study: “We recruited participants from the Oxford area,” Bagg said. “Usually working adults. Our average age was around 57.”
- Performing preliminary testing: Blood lipid panels, body composition data (A1C hemoglobin, blood glucose, insulin), performed exercise test, and pulse wave velocity tests
- Collecting data from glucose and physical activity monitors: For the first ordinary week and second “active” week, this consisted of 30 minutes of riding the e-bike for 4 days.
Bagg explained that one of the few challenges she ran into was collecting reliable and useful data of the necessary subjects to best analyze the conclusion of her project.
Bagg at the MidWest American College of Sports
“With human research, it’s really hard to control for outside factors. It’s their own choice whether they want to do the study properly, and you’re always going to have a couple participants who may have not followed the directions fully throughout the study,” she said.
Her findings concluded that during the second week, in which physical activity was introduced with the e-bike, the participants were able to maintain their levels at a healthy range of 70-120 mg•dL-1 for longer periods of time. This is evidence that riding an e-bike does benefit individuals' cardiometabolic health and well-being overall. In addition, feedback from the study volunteers indicated that they enjoyed riding the e-bike.
“The impact that we think the result has is, for people who live a more sedentary lifestyle, maybe they have limitations that are stopping them from being able to exercise,” Bagg said. “This is a great, easy, fairly safe way to kind of dip your toe into exercise.”
As a result of her dedication, Bagg contributed to the presentation of her findings with Alessio and other Kinesiology students at the Midwest American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) conference in Indiana on October 20-22. The trip included selected universities of the region sharing findings of their research and learning about topics explored by other students and faculty.
With this experience, Bagg continues to strive towards attending medical school after graduating from Miami next spring.
“I definitely would consider something within the exercise world for sure, but I also am fully open to different areas of the medical field,” Bagg said. “I would like to find my spot or where I'll fit in the best, where I'm happiest and most passionate.”