Strategies for Improving Activity and Fitness
Combining wearable fitness tracking with intervention programs aimed to increase daily physical activity of children
More than one third of U.S. children and adolescents are obese or overweight, and many do not get the minimum of 60 minutes of daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity that healthcare providers recommend. The implications of inadequate physical activity are well documented and can lead to downstream health problems including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, depression, and numerous other diseases.
The Mendoza team’s current research includes a physical activity study that examines whether “walking school buses” – where adults supervise groups of children as they walk to school – can prevent obesity and help kids get more physical activity. Jason Mendoza is leading a similar pilot study that investigates the health impacts of “bicycle train” programs, where kids are supervised while they bike to school. The team is also studying the feasibility of wearable mobile health devices (i.e., fitness bands) for improving teenagers’ physical activity, and using the data from fitness trackers to help quantify the impact of interventions to promote physical activity.
While Dr. Mendoza’s research has broad applications to youth of all backgrounds, much of his research focuses on children in racial and ethnic minority groups, and low-income populations. There are significant health inequities in physical activity and obesity risk for individuals in these groups, and Mendoza’s team aims to help manage the health inequality experienced by these children.
Integration with wearable fitness trackers and social media has proven to be effective at both monitoring and encouraging increased physical activity. Ongoing projects by Dr. Mendoza and his team will aim to improve physical activity rates of children and adolescents, including childhood cancer survivors, by developing interactive physical activity apps, and potentially partnering with athletics companies to help sponsor expanded active commuting efforts.
Dr. Jason Mendoza’s Faces of Research Video
Stage of Development
- Pre-commercial and commercial
- Collaborative research opportunity
- Sponsored research agreement
- Consultation agreement
- App development
- Mendoza JA, Watson K, Chen T-A, et al. Impact of a Pilot Walking School Bus Intervention on Children’s Pedestrian Safety Behaviors: A Pilot Study. Health and Place. 2012 Jan;18(1): 24-30.
- Mendoza JA, Watson K, Nguyen N, Cerin E, Baranowski T, Nicklas T. Active Commuting to School and Association with Physical Activity and Weight Status among US Youth. J. Phys Act Health. 2011; 8 (4): 488-495.
- Mendoza JA, Watson K, Baranowski T, Nicklas TA, Uscanga DK, Hanfling MJ. The Walking School Bus and Children’s Physical Activity: A Pilot Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial. Pediatrics. 2011 Sep; 128(3): e537-e544.