Professor Aims to Improve Athletes’ Health
By Liam Farrell
Kinesiology Professor Jim Hagberg is fairly dismissive of the time he spent as a distance runner—“I was a terrible one”—but he believes his latest research may hold the key to turning good athletes into great ones.
Hagberg is the lead developer of the Training Optimization System (TOPS) app, which was a finalist in an Under Armour competition this spring to further develop its Armour39 workout tracking system. Through a module and chest strap, the Armour39 monitors an athlete’s biometrics and movement.
Hagberg believes the science behind his company’s app separates it from other products on the fitness market. TOPS starts by calculating maximum oxygen consumption based on personal data like birthdate, gender and heart rate, and also incorporates what sport and position a user plays.
From there, the app tracks the water, glycogen, carbohydrates and fat burned or lost in workouts and formulates a rehydration plan to restore the athlete to top shape. It even sends reminders to his or her phone.
“If you can make athletes 5 percent better able to train, somewhere down the road that is going to pay off,” Hagberg says. “If you can prevent one stress fracture a year on a team, it could be huge.”
Hagberg says the idea was born from his work with Maryland’s track and field and cross country teams, whose athletes didn’t always properly hydrate or take enough calcium to help prevent injuries—after all, an 18-year-old athlete still sometimes eats and drinks like an 18-year old. He is also currently working with men’s soccer, women’s field hockey and the men’s basketball teams.
Future plans for the app include creating team packages to help coaching staffs and adding the ability to monitor calcium, vitamin D and iron.
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