Physical Activity and Health Promotion Research
A secondary area of research in my laboratory is examining the effect of walking during daily life on physical and cardiovascular health. Daily ambulatory activity is promoted as an effective strategy to improve health status and prevent disease. While walking is commonly measured as total steps taken per day, this metric does not take into account the intensity of walking. Exercise intensity is an important factor to consider when trying to alter certain health variables along with improving physical fitness. As a result, my research is trying to understand the relative importance of total steps per day versus novel metrics of ambulatory activity, such as peak stepping cadence, with respect to their impact on health and fitness. To date, my research has shown that peak stepping cadence during daily ambulatory activity is associated with greater elasticity of leg arteries in young adults, and in older adults, people that take faster steps while walking during daily life have better physical fitness as demonstrated by the time it takes to complete 400 meters. There are still much to understand, but it is our long-term goal to be able to prescribe a walking routine that is most effective at improving vascular health and/or functional capacity in adults across all ages and abilities.
My research efforts focus on promoting healthy behaviors, increasing physical activity and reducing sedentary behaviors, guided by the behavioral epidemiology framework (Sallis and Owen, 1999) that provides a systematic sequence of studies leading to the development and implementation of effective, evidence-based interventions directed at targeted populations. I am currently building the foundation of a research agenda focused on 1) establishing links between behaviors and health; 2) developing methods for measuring the behavior; 3) identifying factors that influence the behavior; and 4) developing and evaluating intervention programs. The research I have conducted for the first focus area employs large public or private health-related datasets to address important public health issues pertaining to physical activity and sedentary behaviors in relation to chronic diseases such as metabolic syndrome and obesity in diverse population groups. Another area of my research focuses on issues in the measurement of physical activity and sedentary behaviors using both subjective and objective instruments in free-living conditions. The other focus area is to identify individual's contextual factors (personal and environmental) that influence physical activity and sedentary behaviors. Lastly, developing and disseminating an evidence-based behavioral intervention program for the prevention of chronic diseases are the primary goals of my research in the future.
Department of Kinesiology & Sport Management
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