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William Haskell shares a tribute to Michael L. Pollock

This is an excerpt from Pollock's Textbook of Cardiovascular Disease and Rehabilitation by J. Larry Durstine,Geoffrey Moore,Michael LaMonte & Barry A. Franklin.

By William L. Haskell, PhD

I am honored to write the foreword for this text dedicated to the memory of Michael L. Pollock, PhD (1936-1998). Mike and I shared much throughout our careers: both growing up in southern California and serving in the U.S. Army before attending graduate school at the University of Illinois; rooming together; attending class and conducting research while earning our doctoral degrees. Our career-long interests in determining the role of physical activity in health and performance and our involvement in professional organizations such as the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), American Heart Association (AHA), and American College of Cardiology (ACC) were the natural outgrowth of this friendship. Mike was truly a great colleague and friend, and I benefited greatly from our association of 30 years.

With Mike, you got what you saw. His approach to his research and to the rest of his life was amazingly straightforward and honest. As a graduate student at Illinois, Mike was known as Mr. Clean, not only for his personal neatness but also for getting and keeping the facts straight. As a consummate scientist he just didn't want the truth: He wanted the exact truth. He wanted to know not only whether walking or jogging was good for cardiovascular health but, if so, how vigorous, long, and frequent the exercise needed to be. His inquisitive nature about such questions resulted in a series of studies that started with his doctoral dissertation. These studies were seminal contributions to the development of science-based exercise prescriptions and the concept of dose-response. This interest and the knowledge he gained from his research led to a major review on the quantification of endurance exercise training programs published in Exercise and Sports Sciences Reviews in 1973. This publication provided much of the scientific basis for the ACSM position statement on The Recommended Quantity and Quality of Exercise for Developing and Maintaining Fitness in Healthy Adults in 1978. This document was updated by ACSM in 1990 and again in 1998, with Mike playing a leadership role in the preparation of all three documents (the latter being published very shortly after his death).

After completing his doctorial work at Illinois, Mike went to Wake Forest University, where he teamed up with Henry Miller, MD. Together they developed an early, highly successful outpatient cardiac rehabilitation program that provided a great service to patients and a platform for conducting research on patients with coronary heart disease. Mike and Henry along with their students and colleagues at Wake Forest rapidly became one of the leading groups in the country to study cardiac rehabilitation, generating data to be used in developing endurance exercise-based rehabilitation for cardiac patients.

In 1973, Mike became director of research at the Institute for Aerobics Research in Dallas. Here he continued his research concerning how much exercise is enough for specific performance and health outcomes. Mike organized a comprehensive biological, psychological, and biomechanical evaluation of a number of world-class distance runners, the results of which were featured in the now-classic publication The Marathon: Physiological, Medical, Epidemiological and Psychological Studies (New York Academy of Sciences, 1977). During this period Mike also pursued the longitudinal evaluation of older (masters) distance runners, research that helped define the changes in endurance capacity with aging, which was a project he continued throughout much of his career. His research at the institute on both endurance and resistance training significantly contributed to the integration of resistance exercise into exercise programs designed to promote health and the development of circuit training regimens.

Mike continued his cardiac rehabilitation research later when he directed the cardiac rehabilitation and human performance laboratories at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Milwaukee. Working with Donald Schmidt, MD, Carl Foster, PhD, and colleagues, Mike contributed his exercise knowledge and scientific approach to the development and evaluation of inpatient as well as outpatient cardiac rehabilitation, involving new patient groups including those who had undergone coronary artery bypass surgery.

In 1986, Mike became the director of the Exercise Science Laboratory at the University of Florida and a professor in health and physical education with a joint appointment in cardiology. He continued with many of his previous research interests but also made major scientific contributions in resistance exercise evaluation and training, prevention and management of low back pain, and geriatric cardiology. His highly systematic approach to research and the interpretation of results added substantially to the standardization of resistance exercise recommendations in cardiac rehabilitation and for the general public.

Mike was not only a highly innovative and prolific scientist; he also was a highly productive communicator and educator. During his 35-year career he published more than 200 manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals, numerous reviews, book chapters, and books. He had a major presence as an invited speaker at numerous national and international scientific meetings over the years, and he was involved in or led many writing groups that produced exercise recommendations for the ACSM, AHA, ACC, and the NIH. Mike's legacy as an educator is ensured by the numerous scientists successfully conducting exercise research throughout the world who were substantially influenced by his teaching and research and the many persons who are more fit and in better health because of his research and sage advice.

Mike consistently advanced the professions of exercise science and sports medicine. He was a Fellow of ACSM, AHA, and ACC and one of the founders of the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation; he was the first co-editor with Victor F. Froelicher, MD, of the Journal of Cardiac Rehabilitation in 1979 (now the Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention). In the ACSM he was a very active member or chair of various committees, especially those dealing with professional certification and guidelines for exercise testing and training, and was ACSM president in 1982-1983.

Over the years Mike was involved with a variety of committees or writing groups working under the auspices of the AHA preparing recommendations and educational materials for health and exercise professionals and the public regarding the cardiovascular benefits of exercise, the proper use of exercise testing, and effective exercise programming.

What Mike achieved both professionally and personally is even more impressive when you consider that he was in a day-to-day battle for much of his adult life with the debilitating chronic rheumatic disease of ankylosing spondylitis. Most people only knew that Mike appeared to have some low back stiffness as he moved about during work or play, but he never considered that he was disabled in any way. He was always very positive and looking ahead to the next project. Mike was a true inspiration to his family, friends, colleagues, and students. This book is one more recognition of his enormous contribution to exercise science, medicine, and mankind.

William L. Haskell, PhD
Stanford Prevention Research Center, Stanford University School of Medicine

This is the foreword from Pollock's Textbook of Cardiovascular Disease and Rehabilitation, edited by J. Larry Durstine, Geoffrey E. Moore, Michael J. LaMonte, and Barry A. Franklin.

More Excerpts From Pollock's Textbook of Cardiovascular Disease and Rehabilitation