Physical Activity and Public Health

Graduate study under faculty focused on Physical Activity and Public Health prepares  students for careers in the promotion of physical activity in different community settings and population groups. Graduates may pursue teaching and research careers in university or other academic settings or health promotion careers with private or public health agencies.

Coursework and research of students interested in Physical Activity and Public Health generally addresses one or more of the five phases in the behavioral epidemiological framework:

  • Phase 1: Establish the links between physical activity and health
  • Phase 2: Develop methods for accurately measuring physical activity
  • Phase 3: Identify factors that influence the level of physical activity
  • Phase 4: Evaluate interventions to promote physical activity
  • Phase 5: Translate research into practice.


Current Research Projects

USDA NIFA, Childhood Obesity Prevention Program, grant# 2011-68001-30020, Generating Rural Opportunities for Weight-Healthy Kids and Communities” (GROW HKC). 

The Specific Aims of this 5-year, $5 million dollar study are to:

  1. Engage rural people in community-based participatory research via Extension partnerships in Oregon, Washington, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, and Arizona, to assess the environmental features that influence rural residents’ abilities to enact healthy eating and physical activity behaviors; and to assess community readiness and capacity for change
  2. Plan, implement, and evaluate a multi-level intervention to promote healthful eating and increase physical activity to affect improvements in BMI among rural children aged 5-8 years old.

We will develop and test the GROW HKC obesity prevention program in rural communities from 3 diverse counties in Oregon over three years.  Results will inform environmental change actions in rural homes, schools, and communities in support of childhood obesity prevention.

Project Principal Investigators: Katherine Gunter and Deborah John