Zan Gao, Ph.D., School of Kinesiology associate professor and director of the Physical Activity Epidemiology Laboratory (PAEL), was recently appointed Editorial Board member by the Journal of Sport and Health Science (JSHS). JSHS is an international peer-reviewed journal founded by the Shanghai University of Sport, and co-published by Elsevier Publishing Group. JSHS is dedicated to the advancement of sport/exercise/health sciences including sport medicine, sport and exercise physiology, public health promotion, biomechanics, sport and exercise biochemistry and nutrition, sport and exercise psychology, motor behavior, coaching, physical education, traditional Chinese sports and wellbeing, and growth and maturation. JSHS has a current impact factor at 2.531.
Zan Gao, Ph.D., School of Kinesiology associate professor, has published an article with colleagues in BioMedResearch International. The study, “Effect of Mini-Trampoline Physical Activity on Executive Functions in Preschool Children,” investigated the effect of mini-trampoline physical activity on the development of executive functions in Chinese preschool children. A sample of 57 children aged 3–5 enrolled in preschool was randomly assigned to an intervention group and control group for 10 weeks. All children had the same classes and care service, but children in the intervention group had an extra 20 minutes of trampoline training after school.
Findings indicated that a 10-week trampoline physical activity training may not be sufficient to trigger the improvement of preschool children’s executive functions, and future research with larger representative samples is warranted to discern the dose-response evidence in enhancing young children’s executive functions through physical activity.
BioMed Research International is a peer-reviewed, Open Access journal with a current Impact Factor of 2.476.
School of Kinesiology Ph.D. student Nan Zeng, associate professor Zan Gao, Ph.D., and assistant professor Jung Eun Lee, Ph.D., from the University of Minnesota Duluth, recently published an article titled “Reliability of Using Motion Sensors to Measure Children’s Physical Activity Levels in Exergaming” in Journal of Clinical Medicine. Mr. Zeng is a current advisee and Dr. Lee is a former advisee of Prof. Gao.
The study examined the reliability of two objective measurement tools in assessing children’s physical activity levels in an exergaming setting. The findings suggested that the NL-1000 pedometers and ActiGraph GT3X accelerometers have low reliability in assessing elementary school children’s physical activity levels during exergaming. More research is warranted in determining the reliable and accurate measurement information regarding the use of modern devices in exergaming setting.
Thanks to support from the administrators of the University of Minnesota and the principal and teachers at LoveWorks Academy in Golden Valley, Zan Gao, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Kinesiology and director of the Physical Activity Epidemiology Laboratory (PAEL), recently established a Brain Gym Lab in the fitness room of LoveWorks Academy. Specifically, four Wii U exercise stations and four Xbox One Kinect exercise stations have been set up in the Brain Gym Lab, which promotes learning through movement.
Loveworks Academy is a public charter school located in a diverse neighborhood and works with a large number of low-income, underserved children ages 4 through 14. The school focuses on a strong academic program that personalizes learning for all students, helping develop independent, cooperative, responsible, and creative adults.
Thus far, the novel exercise program has been well received by teachers and students in the school. This is the third school-based lab Dr. Gao has established in the public schools in the state of Minnesota. Below are photos from the program.
Students from a Minneapolis high school and middle school visited the School of Kinesiology on April 13. Southwest High School and Venture Academy students toured the Recreation and Wellness Center, then the Southwest students visited Prof. Zan Gao’s Physical Activity Epidemiology Laboratory (PAEL), while Venture Academy students heard Prof. Daheia Barr-Anderson describe her community projects in the Behavioral Physical Activity Laboratory (BPAL). Later in the day, both groups stopped by to see the presentations at the 2018 Kinesiology Research Day, held in Walter Library.
The Southwest group was accompanied by Andrew Gross, a Kinesiology graduate of the Physical Education Licensure program, who teaches health and physical activity at the high school. The tour was arranged by Kinesiology undergraduate advisers Katie Koopmeiners and Colin Rogness, and assisted by Eydie Kramer, Kinesiology Ph.D. student and graduate assistant.
On Thursday, April 12, Zan Gao, Ph.D., associate professor and director of the Physical Activity Epidemiology Laboratory in the School of Kinesiology, will be participating in the Diversity Through the Disciplines Symposium 2018 sponsored by the Institute for Diversity, Equity, and Advocacy. Gao will be joining fellow past Multicultural Award Recipients who are also presenting at the event. His presentation is titled “Feasibility of Smartphone Exercise Apps in Health Outcomes in Minority Breast Cancer Survivors.”
The symposium will be held in the Presidents Room, Coffman Memorial Union, at 12:15 p.m. (12:00 sign-in). The talks are free and open to the public. Lunch will be provided.
Two School of Kinesiology graduate students have received Professional Development Awards for the 2017-2018 academic year.
Daniel McDonough, Ph.D. student in the Physical Activity and Health emphasis, and Nicolette Peterson, Ph.D. student in the Movement Science emphasis, will each receive $4,000 to help cover costs related to conference registration, travel, special research equipment and supplies, and technology items related to their studies.
McDonough is advised by Zan Gao, Ph.D., and is a member of the Physical Activity Epidemiology Laboratory (PAEL). Peterson is advised by Thomas Stoffregen, Ph.D., and is a member of the Affordance Perception-Action Laboratory (APAL).
The School of Kinesiology’s Physical Activity Epidemiology Laboratory (PAEL) team had a strong presence at two conferences held in Nashville, TN, last month.
Lab members successfully presented five separate research studies at the SHAPE America 2018 Conference and Expo, March 20-24. Kinesiology associate professor and PAEL lab director Zan Gao, Ph.D., and current and former advisees June Lee, Ph.D., and Zachary Pope, Ph.D. candidate, each presented one first-author abstract. Nan Zeng, Ph.D. candidate, presented two first-author abstracts.
The research covered an array of topics within the field of Physical Activity and Health, ranging from a longitudinal study investigating the 3-year trajectory of physical activity and weight status in school-aged children, to comparing the physiological effects between virtual reality and traditional exercise biking.
Full citations of the presentations at SHAPE America are below.
1. Gao, Z., Lee, J., Stodden, D., Xiang, P., & Zhang, P. (2018, March). Trajectory Changes of
Physical Activity and Weight Status in Children. Paper presented at the annual meeting of
SHAPE, Nashville, Tennessee.
2. Pope, Z., Zeng, N., & Gao, Z. (2018, March). Comparing physiological effects between
virtual reality and traditional exercise biking. Paper presented at the annual meeting of SHAPE,
3. Lee, J., Zeng, N., Zhang, Y., & Gao, Z. (2018, March). Children’s psychosocial beliefs and
physical activity levels in physical education. Paper presented at the annual meeting of SHAPE,
4. Zeng, N., Pope, Z., & Gao, Z. (2018, March). Acute effect of virtual reality on college
students’ psychological outcomes. Paper presented at the annual meeting of SHAPE, Nashville,
5. Zeng, N., Stodden, D., & Gao, Z. (2018, March). Dynamic relationship between perceived
competence and motor skills in children. Paper presented at the annual meeting of SHAPE,
At the International Chinese Society for Physical Activities and Health, Gao and lab members/advisees Nan Zeng, Daniel (DJ) McDonough and Wenxi Liu, both first-year Ph.D. students, each presented one first-author abstract. The presentations covered topics such as the examination of physiological and psychosocial health outcomes during various modes of exergaming and investigating physical activity correlates and behaviors from the perspective of the Social Ecological Model. Notably, Zeng and McDonough won first-place awards for best oral and poster presentations, respectively. Full citations are below.
1. Li, X., Liu, W., Xiong, S., Tao, K., Yang, Z., Zeng, N., & Gao, Z. (2018). Examining associations
among motivation, physical activity and health in Chinese college students. Paper presented at
2018 International Chinese Society for Physical Activities and Health (ICSPAH) annual meeting in
2. Liu, W., Li, X., Xiong, S., Tao, K., Peng, Q., Zeng, N., & Gao, Z. (2018) Associations among
Chinese college students’ physical activity correlates and behaviors: A social ecological model.
Paper presented at 2018 International Chinese Society for Physical Activities and Health
(ICSPAH) annual meeting in Nashville, TN.
3. McDonough, D., Pope, Z., Zeng, N., Lee, J., & Gao, Z. (2018). College students’
psychosocial outcomes and step counts during single- and double-player exergaming
conditions. Paper presented at 2018 International Chinese Society for Physical Activities and
Health (ICSPAH) annual meeting in Nashville, TN.
4. Xiong, S., Zeng, N., Liu, W., Tao, K., Li, X., & Gao, Z. (2018). College Students’ physical
activity, cardiovascular fitness, body composition and health status in China: A cross-sectional
study. Paper presented at 2018 International Chinese Society for Physical Activities and Health
(ICSPAH) annual meeting in Nashville, TN.
5. Zeng, N., Pope, Z., Lee, J., & Gao, Z. (2018, March). College students’ enjoyment, self-
efficacy, and energy expenditure in exergaming and treadmill walking. Paper presented at 2018
International Chinese Society for Physical Activities and Health (ICSPAH) annual meeting in
School of Kinesiology Ph.D. candidates Nan Zeng and Zachary Pope are first and second authors, respectively, on a recent article they published with their adviser, associate professor Zan Gao, Ph.D., in the Journal of Clinical Medicine.
Gao’s former advisee Jung Eun Lee, Ph.D., assistant professor at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, is third author. Gao is director of the School’s Physical Activity Epidemiology Laboratory.
The article, titled “Virtual Reality Exercise for Anxiety and Depression: A Preliminary Review of Current Research in an Emerging Field,” discusses the authors’ study, which synthesized literature concerning the effect of virtual reality (VR) exercise on anxiety and depression among various populations. The study concluded that existing evidence is insufficient to support the advantages of VR exercise as a stand-alone treatment over traditional therapy in the alleviation of anxiety and depression, and that more research is needed.
The University’s eleventh annual Doctoral Research Showcase will include a presentation by Zachary Pope, Kinesiology Ph.D. candidate and advisee of Zan Gao, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Kinesiology and director of the Physical Activity Epidemiology Lab (PAEL).
The Showcase will be held Tuesday, April 3 from 12 p.m. – 2 p.m. in the Great Hall, Coffman Memorial Union.
The goal of the Doctoral Research Showcase is to help doctoral fellows develop their abilities to talk about their research to audiences outside of their disciplines and to gain exposure for their work with key stakeholders.
Pope’s research presentation is “Use of Wearable Technology to Improve Physical Activity and Eating Behaviors among College Students: A 12-week Randomized Pilot Study.” All Kinesiology colleagues are invited to attend and support Mr. Pope.
For more information about the event or to view a list of all of this year’s participants, visit: z.umn.edu/drs2018.
Zachary Pope, Ph.D. candidate in the School of Kinesiology and a member of the Physical Activity Epidemiology Laboratory (PAEL), is first author on a recently published article in Translational Behavioral Medicine titled, “Feasibility of Smartphone Application and Social Media Intervention on Breast Cancer Survivors’ Health Outcomes.” The article’s co-authors include lab member Nan Zeng, Ph.D. candidate, former lab member June Lee, Ph.D., Zan Gao, Ph.D., lab director, as well as Hee Yun Lee, Ph.D. from the University of Alabama.
The study investigates the feasibility of employing a commercially available mobile health application and social media-based health education intervention to improve breast cancer survivors’ physical activity and health. Observations indicate that the 10-week intervention designed to increase physical activity duration and steps per day decreases body weight and body fat percentage. Improvements in breast cancer survivors’ quality of life were also observed.
Zan Gao, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Kinesiology and director of the Physical Activity Epidemiology Laboratory, together with researchers from the U of M, has successfully secured a 5-year NIH R01 research grant for $3.68 million. He is serving as co-investigator on the study.
The project titled “Measurement of glucose homeostasis in human brain by NMR” (2R01NS035192-17) will be led by Elizabeth Seaquist, M.D. and Gulin Oz, Ph.D., both professors in the School of Medicine. The goal of the study is to investigate how hypoglycemia leads to impaired awareness of hypoglycemia in individuals with type 1 diabetes using magnetic resonance spectroscopy and neurochemical approaches. Gao will serve as the physical activity specialist on the team to lead the measurement and analysis of patients’ physical activity behavior, sedentary behavior, and sleep patterns.
Zan Gao, Ph.D., School of Kinesiology associate professor, has published an article with colleagues in BioMed Research International. This study synthesized literature concerning casual evidence of effects of various physical activity programs on motor skills and cognitive development in typically developed preschool children. Of the five studies, four (80%) showed significant and positive changes in language learning, academic achievement, attention, and working memory.
Nan Zeng, lead author on the article, is a Ph.D. candidate in Kinesiology and is advised by Dr. Gao.
The full citation:
“Effects of Physical Activity on Motor Skills and Cognitive Development in Early Childhood: A Systematic Review.” N. Zeng, M. Ayyub, H. Sun, X Wen, P Xiang, Z. Gao. BioMed Research International, 2017.
Zachary Pope, Ph.D. candidate in the School of Kinesiology and advised by Kinesiology associate professor Zan Gao, Ph.D., was one of three current Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship recipients invited to speak at the CEHD Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship Workshop on November 17. Along with three CEHD faculty, Pope and the two other current Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship recipients discussed how to best construct a strong Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship application packet, with a large focus on drafting the associated research proposal to the 90 doctoral students in attendance. The workshop video is available on YouTube.
The Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship gives the University’s most accomplished Ph.D. candidates an opportunity to devote full-time effort to an outstanding research project by providing time to finalize and write a dissertation during the fellowship year. This award includes a stipend of $25,000 for the academic year (September-May), tuition for up to 14 thesis credits each semester (fall & spring), and subsidized health insurance through the Graduate Assistant Health Plan.
Zan Gao, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Kinesiology and director of the Physical Activity Epidemiology Laboratory, has been selected as the Foreign Outstanding Instructor by Hunan University in the People’s Republic of China in 2017. Hunan University is a top tier research university in China.
During his trip in November 2017, Gao delivered a graduate course titled “Emerging Technology in Physical Activity and Health Promotion” to approximately 30 graduate students at Hunan University (Changsha, China). This course was designed for graduate students to develop an in-depth and comprehensive understanding of what it means to introduce and apply emerging technologies in physical activity and healthcare settings. It demonstrated the important role emerging technologies play in a grand societal challenge – health/wellbeing – within the dramatically changing society. In addition, students were exposed to a variety of real-world physical activity and health care settings, as well as the related ethics, privacy, and research regulations working in the settings. They gained a user-centered understanding from the perspective of physical activity specialists, applied emerging technologies in promoting physical activity participation among various populations, and developed research skills to promote physical activity and health in these real-world settings.
Gao’s total accumulated lecture time was 32 hours, and the students received 2 credit hours toward their graduate degrees. Gao’s lectures have been well-received by the students and faculty members at Hunan University.
Zan Gao, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Kinesiology and director of the Physical Activity Epidemiology Laboratory (PAEL), recently published one book chapter as the co-author in Learning for a lifetime: Effective secondary physical education programs edited by Cothran and Keating.
Citation: Lu, C., & Gao, Z. (2017). Traditional Chinese physical activities. In Cothran, D.J. & Keating, X. (Ed.), Learning for a lifetime: Effective secondary physical education programs (pp. 273 – 287). Beijing, China: Education Science Publishing House.
Zan Gao, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Kinesiology and director of the Physical Activity Epidemiology Laboratory (PAEL), is co-author on an article in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy titled “The Relationship Between Accelerometer-Determined Physical Activity and Clinical Low Back Pain Measures in Adolescents With Chronic or Sub-Acute Recurrent Low Back Pain.” The study examined the relationship between objective physical activity measures assessed by accelerometers and standard clinical measures (pain intensity, disability, quality of life) in a sample of adolescents with recurrent or chronic low back pain (LBP). The study found that objectively measured physical activity was very weakly and not importantly associated with self-rated LBP intensity, disability, and quality of life.
Gao serves as corresponding author and first co-author on the article. He collaborated with doctoral advisees Zachary Pope and Nan Zeng, as well as colleagues Brent Leininger, DC, MS, Gert Bronfort, DC, PhD, and Roni Evans, DC, PhD, from the U of M’s Center for Spirituality and Healing, and Mitchell Haas, DC, MA, from the University of Western States.
Zan Gao, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Kinesiology and director of the Physical Activity Epidemiology Lab (PAEL), was reappointed as a high-end foreign expert on Physical Activity and Health by the People’s Republic of China for summer 2017. During his appointment tenure, Gao was based at Hunan Normal University (Changsha, China) and stayed in China for one month over the summer.
During his stay, Gao delivered a series of lectures on physical activity and health, helped the university establish the discipline in physical activity and health, offered a number of workshops to faculty and students, as well as trained the faculty and graduate students in conducting a cutting-edge research project. Gao is an alumnus of Hunan Normal University, where he received his bachelor’s degree in physical education.
In addition, Gao was selected as the Foreign Outstanding Instructor by Hunan Province of China in summer 2017. He was based at Huaihua University, where he delivered a course titled “Advances in Physical Activity and Health,” as well as mentored the faculty and students in conducting two research projects in the university and local rural communities. Gao’s lectures have been well-received by the students and faculty members at Huaihua University.
Zachary Pope, Ph.D. candidate in the School of Kinesiology and advised by Kinesiology associate professor Zan Gao, Ph.D., was recently hired as an adjunct instructor at Bethel University teaching exercise physiology and assessment. Bethel University is a private Christian liberal arts institution with an enrollment of approximately 6,000 students.
While Pope’s current research interests center around the use of technology to promote physical activity and nutritious eating behaviors, with improved physiological and psychosocial health outcome the ultimate goal, Pope previously spent six years exclusively studying and/or teaching exercise physiology. Further, since 2012, Pope has been an American College of Sports Medicine Certified Exercise Physiologist and coordinated the Human Performance Laboratory at Boise State University while earning his master’s degree.
Zan Gao, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Kinesiology and director of the Physical Activity Epidemiology Lab (PAEL), gave a keynote address at the 2017 China-America Summit Forum on Breast Cancer in Guangzhou, a major city of over 20 million in southern China, on June 18th, 2017. He delivered a 30-minute, well-received presentation titled “Disease Management and Improvement of Quality of Life Among Breast Cancer Survivors” to over 200 conference attendees.