By Tori Kuhr
The latest presentation in the Investigating Research on Campus series (iROC) was given by Elizabeth Harper, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology in MSMC Division of Natural Sciences, on Feb. 15 in the Dominican Center.
Dr. Harper’s presentation, titled Moving to Zero, highlights the research she has conducted through trying to keep people healthy through movement. Her research started in 1996 by teaching yoga classes at different levels with individuals with multiple sclerosis. She also reports on her most recent study of how the senior population might take advantage of increased movement from doing aquatic yoga. Since many seniors have increasing joint pain, aquatic yoga has the ability to put resistance on a person’s body without doing strenuous movements.
The basis of Dr. Harper’s presentation is to emphasize the importance of movement and how some people take it for granted. Whether from old age, a chronic illness or having developmental abnormalities, not all bodies have the same abilities.In one of Dr. Harper’s studies, she wanted to see if sitting in a chair in a social setting and focusing on one’s breathing can stimulate the limbic system to just get the diaphragm moving. It’s movements like deep breathing on holding one’s head up people take for granted when others are incapable of doing so or experience too much pain.
Many of Dr. Harper’s present and past students attended the presentation to listen to her explain her research. Her research was thorough and insightful, highlighting points people going about their everyday lives take for granted. She exposed how physical activity, or any activity at all can stimulate our bodies to heal better and try to combat the inevitable of our bodies breaking down.