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Feb. 14, 2012
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Patterson expansion adds high-tech labs

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Talk about a fitness plan that fits the exercise science student lifestyle. A two-story addition to Patterson Hall will include an exercise and rehabilitative sciences laboratory with workout equipment utilizing flash drive computer technology.
    Students will log on to treadmills and elliptical machines, receive fitness instruction and save data on flash drives to track their progress in becoming more fit or devising a workout regiment for themselves or a client. The experience will give them an employment or graduate school advantage, professors said, because the field of fitness is becoming increasingly high tech.
      “Our students need to have a place to learn, train and practice on the most high-tech equipment to make them competitive,” said Jeffrey Lynn, SRU professor of exercise and rehabilitative sciences.  “As part of ‘Exercise is Medicine,’ 80 to 90 percent of our students will attend graduate school for some kind of clinical, health related field. What they need to be able to do is understand this technology and use ‘Exercise is Medicine’ in their future practice.”
    “Exercise is Medicine,” an international movement that SRU implemented a year ago, argues that physical activity helps prevent disease and chronic health problems such as hypertension and diabetes.
     The $2.3-million, 8,300-square-foot Patterson addition will provide new classrooms, lab and research space for the department of exercise and rehabilitative sciences. The first floor will include strength and fitness classrooms. The second floor is for group fitness instruction and will include the high-tech laboratory. Patterson, a former residence hall that that University repurposed to save millions in new construction costs, will also receive a new entrance, sidewalks, landscaping and miscellaneous interior modifications.
      Construction should be completed this fall, with full occupancy by spring 2013, said Patricia Pierce, professor of exercise and rehabilitative sciences and department chair. The new lab will be for learning, training with professors and research and not open to students as a gym.
      “The new generation likes technological ‘apps,’” Pierce said. “And if we can make high technology part of their physical activity program, we are much more better able to get them interested in physical activity in the first place.”
      SRU offers cardiovascular and strength-training equipment in the Robert N. Aebersold Student Recreation Center. The equipment monitors revolution per minute and miles per hour and includes monitors, but interactive options with a flash drive would be a first at SRU.
     The technology will enable users to plug in a flash drive to create and manage fitness programs online. Flash drive data can be easily transferred to a laptop or desktop computer.
      “It’s a learning lab,” Lynn said. “It will look just like a place where you go in and do your fitness training, but it will be set apart by the high-tech equipment. Students are very aware how important it is for them to learn by doing. This is going to give them the opportunity for hands-on learning right here in a newly dedicated lab.”
    The addition is the second time SRU has pumped new life into the Patterson, which opened in 1958. In 2008, SRU converted the residence hall into an academic building. The project expanded Patterson by 2,700 square feet. Replacing Patterson with a new building would have cost the University $16.4 million, said Herb Carlson, assistant vice president for construction design and management.
    Today’s interest in green architecture has heighted attention to the ethic of preservation as part  of sustainability.
       Lynn said the addition builds on
SRU’s mounting involvement with Exercise is Medicine and fitness as a lifestyle. The comprehensive Exercise is Medicine initiative includes curriculum enhancements, networking with physicians and new fitness programs.  As part of the initiative, Thursday SRU re-launched its version of the 10,000-Step Walking Program and gave away free pedometers.