Category Archives: Physical Activity Epidemiology Laboratory

Gao serves as guest editor for special issue of Journal of Sport and Health Science

Zan Gao, Ph.D., Kinesiology associate professor and director of the Physical Activity Epidemiology Laboratory, recently served as the Guest Editor for a special issue of Journal of Sport and Health Science titled “Promoting Physical Activity and Health through Exergaming.”

The purpose of this special topic is to investigate the effects of exergaming on individuals’ energy expenditure, physical activity participation, sedentary behaviors, actual and perceived motor skills, activity choices, behavioral changes and psychosocial beliefs through experimental and quasi-experimental designs. The special issue includes a total of four original articles, one review article, one editorial, and one commentary piece contributed by research scientists in the USA, Australia, France, and Belgium. The special issue is available at this link.

Pope awarded $1200 COGS Travel Grant to present at SHAPE America’s national convention 

Zachary Pope, Ph.D. candidate in the School of Kinesiology, has been awarded a $1200 Council of Graduate Students (COGS) Travel Grant to present two posters and give one oral presentation at the Society for Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE) America National Convention held in Boston March 14-18. Pope is advised by Zan Gao, Ph.D., associate professor and director of the Physical Activity Epidemiology Laboratory.

COGS is a University-wide student organization that represents, advocates for, and supports graduate students at the U of M. The travel grant supports students who present original work at a conference with a poster, oral presentation, or other acceptable format.  The maximum award is $1200.

While at the SHAPE America Convention, Pope will also be awarded a 2017 Research Council Graduate Student Research Award by SHAPE America for his project, “Validity of Smartwatches in Assessing Energy Expenditure and Heart Rate.”

Gao and Lee publish paper in Computers in Human Behavior


Zan Gao, Ph.D
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, associate professor in the School of Kinesiology and Director of the Physical Activity Epidemiology Lab, recently published a paper in Computers in Human Behavior. The first author, Jung Eun Lee, is Dr. Gao’s Ph.D. student and currently an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

The paper examined the acute effect of playing a single bout of active video games on children’s mood change and whether mood change differed by gender and age group. The researchers found that a short bout of active video games significantly reduced anger, depression and vigor, and fourth grade children had greater vigor than the third graders.

Lee, J., Xiang, P., & Gao, Z. (2017). Acute effect of active video games on older children’s mood change. Computers in Human Behavior, 70, 97-103. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2016.12.060 (impact factor: 2.69)

Physical Activity Epidemiology Laboratory researchers publish in Journal of Sport and Health Science and Preventive Medicine 

Doctoral students Nan Zeng, Zachary Pope, June Lee, and associate professor Zan Gao, Ph.D., from the School of Kinesiology, recently published an article titled “A systematic review of active video games on rehabilitative outcomes among older patients” in Journal of Sport and Health Science. Mr. Zeng is the lead author on the article. The study systematically reviewed literature, summarized findings, and evaluated the effectiveness of Active Video Games (AVGs) as a therapeutic tool in improving physical, psychological, and cognitive rehabilitative outcomes among older adults with chronic diseases. The study found AVGs have potential in rehabilitation for older patients, though more research is warranted to make more definitive conclusions.

In addition, Zachary Pope published “The effects of active video games on patients’ rehabilitative outcomes: A meta-analysis” recently in Preventive Medicine. Co-authors are Nan Zeng and Zan Gao, Ph.D. The review examined the effectiveness of active video games in rehabilitation settings. When compared to traditional rehabilitation methods, findings indicated active video games to have a large positive effect on balance control in youth/young adults and a moderate positive effect on older adults’ falls efficacy. More research is needed, however, particularly as pertains to the use of active video gaming in cognitive rehabilitation.

Dr. Zan Gao
Dr. Zan Gao
Nan Zeng
Nan Zeng
Zachary Pope
Zachary Pope
June Lee
June Lee

Pope awarded SHAPE America’s 2017 Research Council Graduate Student Research Award

Zach PopeZachary Pope, Ph.D. student and graduate assistant in the School of Kinesiology, was awarded a 2017 Research Council Graduate Student Research Award by SHAPE America for his project, “Validity of Smartwatches in Assessing Energy Expenditure and Heart Rate.” Pope is advised by Zan Gao, Ph.D., associate professor of physical activity and health in Kinesiology.
The Graduate Student Research Award is given to an outstanding author and presenter of a research program for the SHAPE America national convention. The award is intended to recognize and encourage graduate student scholarship.  Pope also was awarded a SHAPE America Graduate Student Grant in 2015 for his research project, “Promoting Physical Activity through Smartphone Apps in Overweight/Obese College Students.”

PAEL featured in CE+HD Connect Magazine

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Zan Gao, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Kinesiology and director of the Physical Activity Epidemiology Lab (PAEL), is featured in the current issue of the College of Education and Human Develpment’s CE+HD Connect Magazine.

Gao and his research team use technology to increase health in children and adults by encouraging movement. Read the entire story titled “Motivation to Move!

 

 

 

 

 

Gao to publish two first-authored papers in Journal of Sport and Health Science

gao-zan-2012Zan Gao, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Kinesiology and Director of the Physical Activity Epidemiology Lab, will publish two first-authored papers in the Journal of Sport and Health Science (impact factor: 1.72).

In the first editorial paper, Dr. Gao comments on the role of active video games in promoting physical activity and health. According to this editorial, although sedentary video games present negative effects to a healthy and active lifestyle, active video games have a great possibility of facilitating physical activity promotion. Health professionals are striving to “fight fire with fire” — attempting to apply active video games to promoting physical activity and health. Notably, as a result of the work of professionals in the past decade, active video games have made marked contributions to the understanding and promotion of physical activity behaviors among various populations.

The second paper examines the effect of exergaming on children’s sedentary behavior, light physical activity, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, and energy expenditure over two years as compared with regular physical education classes. It was found that exergaming can have the same positive effect on children’s light physical activity, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, and energy expenditure as does regular physical education.

Gao, Z. (in press). Fight fire with fire: Promoting physical activity and health through active video games. Journal of Sport and Health Science.

Gao, Z., Pope, Z., Lee, J., Stodden, D., Roncesvalles, N., Pasco, D., Huang, C., & Feng, D. (in press). Impact of exergaming on young children’s school day energy expenditure and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity levels. Journal of Sport and Health Science.

 

Gao and students publish two papers in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health

gao-zan-2012Zan Gao, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Kinesiology and Director of the Physical Activity Epidemiology Lab, recently published two papers with his students in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health.

The first paper, “Effect of SPARK on students’ physical activity, motivation and cardiovascular fitness in physical education” examines the effect of a 9-week SPARK program on physical activity, cardiorespiratory endurance (Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run), and motivation in middle-school students. The researchers found that, following the intervention, SPARK displayed greater increases on physical activity and motivation measures in younger students compared with the Traditional program. The first author, You Fu, is Dr. Gao’s previous PhD student and currently Assistant Professor at the University of Nevada at Reno.

The second paper, “Young children’s energy expenditure and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity on weekdays and weekends” was funded by NIH with June Lee serving as the first author. This study explores children’s estimated energy expenditure rates and time spent in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity in three-time segments: at-school, after-school, and weekends. It was found that children’s energy expenditure rate and minutes in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day were higher during after school and weekends than at school. Yet, children’s moderate-to-vigorous physical activity during weekdays and weekends still fell far short of the recommended level of 60 minutes/day.

 

 

Gao, Lee, and Pope have study published in Games for Health Journal

Director of the School of Kinesiology’s Physical Activity Epidemiology Laboratory, Zan Gao,  Ph.D., and doctoral students/co-authors June Lee and Zachary Pope, had a recent study published in Games for Health Journal.

The study investigated the effect of school-based active video games on underserved minority children’s on-task classroom behavior, academic effort, and cardiovascular fitness over the course of a 6-week intervention. Findings indicated children’s on-task classroom behavior and academic effort to increase significantly over time. However, while improvements in cardiovascular fitness were seen over time, these improvements were not significant. Nonetheless, findings indicated that a school-based active video gaming program may be able to promote improved classroom behavior and academic effort–possibly by decreasing children’s self-stimulated behavior following gameplay. Read the full article here.

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June Lee
Dr. Zan Gao
Dr. Zan Gao
PopeZ-2014
Zachary Pope

PAEL appears on ISBNPA’s Meet Your Neighbor column

GaoZan-2013The International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity (ISBNPA) recently featured a video to its “Meet Your Neighbor” media column showcasing the Physical Activity Epidemiology Laboratory (PAEL), directed by Zan Gao, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Kinesiology. The video highlights some of the outreach done by PAEL, including the development of exergaming laboratories in local schools.

ISBNPA has an international presence with nearly 900 members representing 40 countries (numbers from May 2016). Its mission is to stimulate, promote and advocate innovative research and policy in the area of behavioral nutrition and physical activity toward the betterment of human health worldwide.

Gao receives NIH grant to study exergaming among preschool children

gao-zan-2012Zan Gao, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Kinesiology and Director of the Physical Activity Epidemiology Lab, has received a one-year, $370,000 research grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to study exergaming play among preschool children.

The project is entitled “Trial of Exergaming Activities on Cognition and Health in Preschoolers – Project TEACH”. It is designed to examine the impact of a child-led and instructor-supervised exergaming intervention in promoting preschool children’s physical activity levels, fitness, movement skills and cognition, compared to a traditional usual care control program at four schools in Minnesota. Gao and his research team will initiate the research project in fall of 2016.

PAEL researchers Zeng and Gao publish article, book chapter

Nan Zeng
Nan Zeng

Doctoral student Nan Zeng and Zan Gao, Ph.D., School of Kinesiology associate professor and director of the Physical Activity Epidemiology Lab (PAEL), recently published an article entitled “Exergaming and obesity in youth: current perspectives.” in the International Journal of General Medicine. The study found exergaming, or playing video games that are also a form of exercise, has the potential to attenuate weight gain and shows promise when used for physical activity and physical fitness promotion.

Read the full study here.

Dr. Zan Gao
Dr. Zan Gao

Under the direction of Dr. Gao, Mr. Zeng also published a chapter titled “Effects of exergaming on fundamental movement skills among children and young adults: A systematic review” in the book Gaming: Trends, Perspectives and Impact on Health. This chapter systematically synthesized and critiqued literature on exergaming in light of the tenets of motor skill development, and went on to elaborate the potentials of exergaming that could contribute to improving the motor skill competence of children and young adults.

Gao named Foreign Outstanding Instructor at Hunan University

Dr. Zan Gao
Dr. Zan Gao

Zan Gao, Ph.D., School of Kinesiology associate professor and director of the Physical Activity Epidemiology Lab (PAEL), has been selected Foreign Outstanding Instructor by Hunan University in Changsha, China.

Hunan University is a top tier research university in China, ranking number 17 in the nation. During his appointment tenure, Gao delivered a graduate course titled “Frontiers in Physical Activity and Health” to approximately 30 graduate students during June and July.

During his stay in China, Gao delivered research talks at other top universities, including Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Beijing Sports University.

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Gao selected as a national high-end expert for China

Dr. Zan Gao
Dr. Zan Gao

Zan Gao, Ph.D., associate professor and director of the Physical Activity Epidemiology Lab (PAEL), has recently been appointed as a high-end foreign expert on Physical Activity Epidemiology by the People’s Republic of China for 2016.

During his appointment tenure, Gao will be based at the Hunan Normal University (Changsha, China) and will stay in China for one month during the summer. As a professor who promotes physical activity and health through innovative emerging technologies, Gao will be part of the first few in his field to be awarded the prestigious honor by China’s State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs. The position was created by the government of China particularly to attract highly accomplished foreign professionals who promote scientific development disciplines, innovation, and cultural exchange.

During his stay, Gao will deliver a series of lectures in physical activity epidemiology and help the university establish the emerging discipline in physical activity epidemiology. He will also offer seminars and workshops to the faculty and students, as well as train the faculty and graduate students in conducting cutting-edge research. Gao is an alumni of Hunan Normal University, where he received his bachelor degree in physical education.

Gao speaks at Harvard School of Public Health

Zan Gao, Ph.D., associate professor and director of the Physical Activity Epidemiology Lab (PAEL), gave an invited lecture at Harvard School of Public Health on June 2, 2016. He delivered a 30-minute talk, Merging Technology in Promoting Physical Activity and Health, to a group of faculty from Harvard School of Public Health and a delegation from China Institute of Sports Science.

Dr. Zan Gao
Dr. Zan Gao

PAEL, Gao presenting several studies at ACSM Annual Meeting

ACSM_logoZan Gao, Ph.D., Kinesiology associate professor and director of the Physical Activity and Epidemiology Laboratory (PAEL), and members of his lab will be presenting at the American College of Sport Medicine (ACSM) Annual Meeting and Exercise is Medicine World Congress held jointly in Boston, MA, this week through June 4. PAEL’s papers accepted for presentation and School of Kinesiology presenters are:

At ACSM:

  • Trajectory changes of children’s energy expenditure and physical activity: The effect of physical activity regiment. (Gao and June Lee, Kinesiology doctoral candidate)
  • Dynamic relationship among elementary school children’s psychosocial beliefs, outside school physical activity and screen time. (Gao and Lee)
  •  Effects of exergaming on college students’ energy expenditure, physical activity and enjoyment. (Zachary Pope, Kinesiology doctoral student, Lee, X. Li, visiting scholar, and Gao)
  • College students’ situational motivation, energy expenditure, and blood pressure in exergaming and treadmill walking (Nan Zeng, visiting doctoral student, Pope, Lee, Li, and Gao)
 At Exercise Is Medicine World Congress:
  • A meta-analysis of effects of exergaming on individuals’ rehabilitation. (Pope, Zeng, and Gao )

Gao named President-elect for International Chinese Society for Physical Activities and Health

Dr. Zan Gao
Dr. Zan Gao

Zan Gao, Ph.D., associate professor and director of the Physical Activity Epidemiology Lab (PAEL), has recently been elected as President-elect for the International Chinese Society for Physical Activities and Health (ICSPAH). The society is a non-profit professional organization serving hundreds of scholars and graduate students from North America, Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macaw and Taiwan.

The mission of this society is to facilitate professional growth and development among its members and to promote healthy, physically active lifestyles through strengthening research and education in international communities.

Gao will serve the organization for the next three years, as President-elect, President, and immediate past-President respectively. During his term, Gao will pursue the creation of a new interactive website for ICSPAH, as well as the establishment of a professional journal affiliated with the society. In addition, he intends to continue to expand the membership through other venues such as the American College of Sports Medicine annual meeting. He also plans to enhance the members’ engagement through improved communication and social networks within the society, and to focus on the development of early career scholars and graduate students in the field of physical activity and health.

Gao receives Grant-in-Aid for research on Smartphone Exercise Apps for breast cancer survivors

GaoZan-2015Zan Gao, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Kinesiology and director of the Physical Activity Epidemiology Lab, was recently awarded a research grant totaling $47,620 from the University of Minnesota’s Office of the Vice President for Research for his work on Smartphone Exercise Apps. He will be collaborating with Dr. Hee Yun Lee from the School of Social Work and Dr. Rui Zhang from the Department of Surgery and Institute for Health Informatics.

Gao’s work is titled, “Improving Breast Cancer Survivors’ Disease Management Outcomes through Smartphone Apps and Online Health Community,” and is designed to examine how utilizing a free, commercially available smartphone app (Polar Flow), capable of uploading physical activity and diet statistics to an online community app (Facebook), along with a Facebook health education community might promote sentiment and quality of life in breast cancer survivors over a 3-month period. Findings from this project will inform the development of innovative and cost-effective mobile device apps and online health communities for disease prevention and management in breast cancer survivors.

Pope’s research featured as main story within The Graduate School’s Synthesist

Zachary Pope, Ph.D. student in the School of PopeZ-2014Kinesiology and graduate assistant within the Physical Activity Epidemiology Laboratory, recently had his ongoing grant-funded research highlighted by the University of Minnesota Graduate School with his research featured as the main story within The Graduate School’s Synthesist on May 3rd. The article talks not only of Pope’s ongoing research, but also addresses what research means to him and what drives him to make an impact through the work he is doing.

The article and a fuller description of Pope’s research can be found here: http://www.grad.umn.edu/news/pope.

Freshman Kalli Fautsch uses U of M Undergraduate Research Scholarship to study in PAEL

Kelli.Kalli Fautsch, CLA freshman studying physiology and psychology, is using her U of M Undergraduate Research Scholarship, awarded to her as an incoming freshman, to work with Zan Gao, Ph.D., assistant professor in Kinesiology and director of the Physical Activity Epidemiology Laboratory (PAEL), and Zachary Pope, Kinesiology Ph.D. student and graduate research assistant in PAEL. Fautsch has been working with Gao and Pope on a research project comparing physical activity, on-task behavior, and communication among children with Autism Spectrum Disorders in exergaming and physical education settings. Fautsch has an interest in sports medicine and has been involved in related research in PAEL since last fall.