College of Education and Human Development

School of Kinesiology

Donald Dengel

  • Professor, Exercise Physiology

Donald Dengel

Areas of interest

Exercise physiology, pediatrics, obesity, metabolism, vascular biology, exercise biochemistry, body composition


1990-1994, National Institute of Aging Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Division of Gerontology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland (Laboratories of Drs. Andrew P. Goldberg and James M. Hagberg); post-doctoral training

1987-1990, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia; Ph.D. (exercise/applied physiology)

1984-1986, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana; M.A. (exercise/applied physiology)

1979-1984, University of Wisconsin, LaCrosse, Wisconsin; B.S. (magna cum laude, honors in physical education)

1979-1984, University of Wisconsin, LaCrosse, Wisconsin; B.S. (magna cum laude, honors in health education)

  • Graduate Education Faculty
  • Professor, School of Kinesiology
  • Director, Human Performance Core and Densitometry Services, University of Minnesota, Clinical and Translational Science Institute
  • Director, Laboratory of Integrative Human Physiology
  • Director, Human Performance Teaching Laboratory
  • Senior Investigator in the Minnesota Obesity Prevention Center
  • Member in the University of Minnesota Cancer Center
  • Member in the University of Minnesota Lillehei Heart Institute
  • Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics

Since 1990, my research has focused on body composition and its effects on insulin sensitivity and peripheral vascular function. Initial studies examined the effects of weight loss and physical activity on carbohydrate metabolism and older, obese hypertensive individuals. Recently, my research has focused on the metabolic syndrome in overweight children and adolescents. Although the metabolic syndrome is thought to be due to the development of obesity that occurs during aging, we have discovered an increasing number of obese children that are displaying similar characteristics of this disease. I am currently conducting a series of studies that are examining blood vessel structure and function and the metabolic syndrome in overweight and obese children before and after lifestyle modifications such as: aerobic exercise training, weight loss and resistance training. As part of my research, I have been using dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) since 1995 to measure body composition. The use of DXA extends from studies in animals to humans from as young as 6 months to over 80 years. My research using DXA in humans involves not only athletes, but master athletes, children and individuals with chronic spinal cord injury. I have used DXA to track body composition changes as a result of aerobic exercise, weight loss, and resistance training. More recently I have been using DXA to develop normative body composition values for athletes as well as predicting sports performance and injury in athletes from professional level to high school.

Dr. Donald Dengel has published over 150 scientific manuscripts and 5 book chapters in the area of body composition, insulin sensitivity, oxygen uptake kinetics and vascular structure and function in children and adults. Dr. Dengel is a Fellow in the National Academy of Kinesiology, the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association.


Ostrem JD, Evanoff NG, Ryder JR, Steinberger J, Sinaiko, AR, Bisch KL, Brinck NM, Dengel DR:  High-flow mediated constriction is not influenced by biomarkers of cardiovascular and metabolic risk. Journal of Clinical Ultrasound 45:35-42, 2017.

Hill AP, Dengel DR, Lubans DR: Supporting public health priorities: recommendations for physical education and physical activity promotion in schools. Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases 57(4):368-374, 2015

Bosch TA, Steinberger J, Sinaiko AR, Moran A, Jacobs DR, Kelly AS, Dengel DR: Identification of sex-specific thresholds for accumulation of visceral adipose tissue in adults. Obesity 23:437-444, 2015.

Dengel DR, Bosch TA, Burruss TP, Fielding KA, Engel BE, Weir NL, Weston TD: Body composition of National Football League players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 28(1):1-6, 2014

Dengel DR, Kelly AS, Zhang L, Hodges JS, Baker KS, Steinberger J:  Signs of early sub-clinical atherosclerosis in childhood cancer survivors. Pediatric Blood & Cancer 61:532-537, 2014.

Dengel DR, Bronas UG: The role of endothelial dysfunction on development and progression of atherosclerosis and methods to assess vascular function and structure.  American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine 4(6):445-456, 2010.