Measurement of physical activity; social and environmental influences on youth physical activity; school-based physical activity interventions
30 Eastman Lane
Amherst, MA 01003
The long-term goals of my research program are to develop, test, and disseminate successful intervention programs that work at multiple levels of influence to increase youth physical activity and decrease screen media use, leading to long-term improvements in physical, social, and mental health.
To accomplish these long-term goals, my research embraces the Social Ecological Model as a framework to better understand the multiple levels of influence on youth physical activity and sedentary behavior. One facet of my research program is to better understand the social and physical environmental influences on youth physical activity and sedentary behavior. The broad research questions here include, but are not limited to: How do friends influence adolescent physical activity and screen media use over time? Do parental influences weaken as children enter and progress through adolescence? How does an adolescent’s position within their social network affect their behavior? How does the home environment (e.g., sport and play equipment, screen media equipment) and the neighborhood environment (e.g., crime, traffic, infrastructure) affect youth physical activity and sedentary behavior?
At the heart of the Social-Ecological Model are the individual-level behaviors and their health outcomes. Therefore, another integral facet of my research program is to better understand how to quantify physical activity and sedentary behavior in youth. We use accelerometers (i.e., motion sensors) to objectively quantify frequency, intensity, and timing of physical activity and inactivity but also rely on questionnaire data, when appropriate, to assess relevant contextual information (e.g., Where? Who with? Why?).