Scientific Debates Highlighted on ACSM Conference Program
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Scientific Debates Highlighted on ACSM Conference Program

Aug 20, 2018

Subject Matter Experts Take on Controversial Topics in Exercise Physiology


The scientific world is riddled with tough-to-answer questions, and on either side of those questions are often experts who have opposing viewpoints. ACSM’S Conference on Integrative Physiology of Exercise is not going to shy away from these hard questions, but rather tackle them head-on with spirited debates between outstanding scientists.

Is there an exercise pill?

Frank Booth, FACSM, will moderate the first debate: “Are Exercise ‘Mimetics’ a Realistic Substitute for Exercise Training?” Ron Evans, Ph.D., of the Salk Institute will argue that yes, PPARδ activates oxidative metabolism by mitochondria to alter metabolism and dramatically enhance running performance. Therefore, drugs to PPARδ, known as exercise mimetics, target “metabolic gene networks” and efficiently increase endurance in absence of exercise.

John Hawley, Ph.D., of the MacKillop Institute for Health Research will argue against the use of exercise mimetics. His message is straightforward:  

Are some people simply born more athletic than others?

J. Timothy Lightfoot, FACSM, will moderate a debate that takes on a very popular topic in the current media: whether the genetic regulation of physiological traits extends to exercise responses and potential regulation of a variety of exercise phenotypes. In the debate titled “Do Genetics Really Influence Exercise Capacity or Trainability?” Claude Bouchard, FACSM, of the Pennington Biomedical Research Institute at Louisiana State University will argue the positive side. He states that

Small effect size, biological redundancy and distributed regulation are pervasive in the biology of adaptation to exercise. They represent major challenges to overcome in the study of the genomic architecture and molecular physiology of cardiorespiratory fitness and its trainability but conceptual and technological advances continue to bring us closer to the finish line.

Michael Joyner, FACSM, will provide the opposing argument. His position states that due to biological redundancy, molecular reductionism at the level of DNA variants is unlikely to provide extensive deterministic and actionable insights on the acute and chronic physiological responses to exercise.

While neither of these questions can yet be definitively answered, its certain that these debates will press the conversations about data and conclusions forward.

To learn more about ACSM’s Conference on Integrative Physiology of Exercise and register for the event, visit the webpage.