Physical Acitvity & Health Research

Physical Activity & Health is a discipline with the goal of promoting health and preventing chronic diseases through physical activity promotion in various populations. This research area has strong interdisciplinary ties across campus, including medicine, nursing, public health, epidemiology, physiology, nutrition, social work, and psychology.

Affiliated labs
Affordance Perception-Action Laboratory (APAL)

Thomas Stoffregen, lab director

The principal focus of the Affordance Perception-Action Laboratory is on perception and action in virtual environments. Research programs are motivated primarily by the ecological approach to human-machine systems. Areas of research include driving, postural control, performance in head-mounted displays, and motion sickness. Collaborative links exist with researchers in the US, Canada, France, and Japan. The APAL was formerly the Human Factors Research Laboratory (HFRL).

Behavioral Physical Activity Laboratory (BPAL)

Daheia Barr-Anderson, lab director

Research conducted in Behavioral Physical Activity Laboratory (BPAL) focuses primarily on physical activity, sedentary behaviors, and obesity prevention in children and adolescents.

Exercise & Mental Health Laboratory (EMHL)

Beth Lewis, lab director

The Exercise and Mental Health Lab includes studies examining the effect of physical activity on mental health. Studies have included randomized trials examining theory-based behavioral strategies to increase exercise among individuals at risk for mental health issues. Most recent studies have examined the effect of telephone-based physical activity interventions on preventing perinatal depression among women who are at high risk for depression.

Laboratory of Physiological Hygiene and Exercise Science (LPHES)

Li Li Ji, lab director

LPHES has recently completed the large multi-center HERITAGE Family Exercise Study. This study examined the interaction of exercise and genetics on risk factors for coronary artery disease and diabetes. Other research focuses at LPHES include studies funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs evaluating the relationships between insulin resistance, sodium sensitivity, blood flow, vascular structure and function, and blood pressure.

Physical Activity Epidemiology Laboratory (PAEL)

Zan Gao, lab director

The mission of the Physical Activity Epidemiology Laboratory is to improve the health of Americans through empirical research, increasing public awareness, and policy advocacy on issues in relation to physical activity intervention, physical activity correlates, physical health, and obesity.

Affiliated faculty
Daheia Barr-Anderson, PhD

Childhood and adolescent obesity, physical activity epidemiology


Zan Gao, PhD

Physical activity epidemiology, physical activity and health, emerging technology applications, physical activity measurement


Li Li Ji, PhD

Biochemical and molecular exercise physiology, nutrition and aging


Beth Lewis, PhD

Physical activity promotion, behavioral interventions for physical activity, exercise and mental health


Thomas Stoffregen, PhD

Perception and action, human factors, control of posture and orientation, ecological psychology, embodied cognition, coordination dynamics, affordances, motion sickness