Clinical exercise researcher speaks at third annual Richard B. Parr Lecture Series

The event included a lecture, Q & A session and celebration of the late Richard B. Parr


Claude Bouchard speaks about his research in his presentation "Variability of intrinsic and acquired cardiorespiratory fitness: Implications" on Oct. 9 at the Bovee University Center Rotunda.

"Today, I'm going to talk about human differences," Professor and Researcher Claude Bouchard said at the beginning of his lecture Tuesday evening.

Bouchard's lecture was part of the Richard B. Parr Endowed Clinical Exercise Lecture Series, which took place Oct. 9 in the Bovee University Center Rotunda.

Bouchard has expertise in metabolism, obesity and exercise genetics. In 2002, he received the honor award from the American College of Sports Medicine. He has coauthored more than 1,000 scientific papers, and has edited and written 35 books. 

Currently, he works in the Human Genomics Laboratory at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 

Topics covered during the event were cardiorespiratory fitness, intrinsic cardiorespiratory fitness, responses to exercise, variables in his studies and their health implications. 

Bouchard concluded that physical activity and exercise are healthy behaviors, but the inherited level of our cardiorespiratory fitness is a strong predictor of future health.

Cardiorespiratory fitness refers to the body's ability to supply oxygen to the skeletal muscles during activity. This involves the work of the circulatory, respiratory and muscular systems.

"CRF is a performance indicator but not a good metabolic indicator," Bouchard said.

Although inherited fitness levels are large indicators of our health, Bouchard argued that the level of cardiorespiratory fitness achieved with regular exercise provides additional protection against health complications.

He said that behavior does matter, regardless of inherited fitness levels. Bouchard said that more than four years of life can be lost due to physical inactivity, and that it accounts for six percent of deaths worldwide. 

He cautioned against prolonged sitting, lack of exercise and poor fitness.

Health Sciences faculty member Naveen Sharma said Bouchard is a big deal in the world of exercise science. He thinks it's great how CMU can bring in world-class, world-renowned experts like Bouchard. 

The lecture series was created in memorial of Richard B. Parr, who taught at CMU for more than 43 years and served on the Advisory Council for the College of Health Professions. According to his obituary, Parr died at age 72 in December 2015.

The event is organized by the Parr Lecture Committee, which consists of Richard Parr's wife and other faculty at the university. 

Alumnus Mike Terwilliger, who currently serves as the vice president of facilities and support services at McLaren Central Michigan, explained to the audience how Parr was his internship coordinator while studying at CMU.

He said that Parr was "an outstanding professor, a mentor, an advocate and a friend."

He reflected on the work he was able to complete alongside Parr at McLaren and the power he had in helping students at the university and graduate levels. 

Health Sciences faculty member Rachel Nelson, a member of the lecture committee,  said although the faculty are eager to talk to Bouchard, his visit is concentrated on benefitting the students in the exercise science program. 

"We've facilitated a guest lecture in class, he's given a presentation to the students today (and) he had dinner with students before the presentation," she said.

Bouchard said he enjoyed his interactions with students and thanked the Parr family for their warm welcome when arriving to campus.