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Woods' publication chosen as Paper of the Year

A publication by Kinesiology and Community Health professor Jeff Woods has been selected as Paper of the Year for 2019 for the journal Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews.

The paper, entitled “Exercise and the gut microbiome: a review of the evidence, potential mechanisms, and implications for human health” look at two studies, one in mice and the other in human subjects, and offer the first definitive evidence that exercise alone can change the composition of microbes in the gut. The studies were designed to isolate exercise-induced changes from other factors - such as diet or antibiotic use - that might alter the intestinal microbiota. 

The selection for this award, new this year to the American College of Sports Medicine, was made by the Editor-in-Chief from Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, who received nominations from the associate editors of the journal.  Each associate editor was instructed to consider the following criteria when making nominations: research significance and conceptual design and technical innovation.  

In the first study, scientists transplanted fecal material from exercised and sedentary mice into the colons of sedentary germ-free mice, which had been raised in a sterile facility and had no microbiota of their own. In the second study, the team tracked changes in the composition of gut microbiota in human participants as they transitioned from a sedentary lifestyle to a more active one—and back again.

“These are the first studies to show that exercise can have an effect on your gut independent of diet or other factors,” said Jeffrey Woods, professor of Kinesiology and Community Health and director of the Center on Health, Aging, and Disability within the College of Applied Health Sciences. He led the research with former doctoral student Jacob Allen, now a postdoctoral researcher at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. The work with mice was conducted at the U. of I. and with scientists at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, who develop and maintain the germ-free mice. The work in humans was conducted at Illinois.

As the Paper of the Year award recipient, Woods is invited to give a five-minute presentation of the paper during the Publication Symposium session at the 2020 ACSM Annual Meeting. 



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