Assistant Professor of Sport and Health Psychology
College of Health and Human Performance
Knowledge does not equal action when it comes to eating well and exercising. Heather Hausenblas studies the gap between what people know and what people do.
The director of the Exercise Psychology Laboratory, Hausenblas examines the links between the psychological effects of physical activity and eating behavior.
“Facilitating physical activity and healthy eating adoption and adherence, however, is a challenge because 80% of American adults are sedentary/low active and 60% are overweight/obese,” says Hausenblas. “Sedentary behavior and obesity cause an estimated 250,000 and 300,000 premature deaths a year in the United States, respectively.”
The first of Hausenblas’ research programs examines both exercise and eating behavior in overweight adults, pregnant and post-partum women, sufferers of eating disorders, and middle school children.
Her second research program studies body image and its effects on eating and exercise.
“Research I have conducted with overweight, university and pregnant women indicates that improving physical appearance is a more important reason for exercising and eating healthy than improving overall well- being,” says Hausenblas.
Complex factors influence whether a person will change their eating and exercise habits.
“Personality is just one determinant of whether somebody will exercise or not,” says Hausenblas. “To establish a well-rounded or an effective exercise program, health-care professionals are encouraged to look at a variety of determinants, such as a person’s age, gender and socioeconomic status, all of which affect whether they are likely to stick with an exercise program.”