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College of Nursing and Health Innovation | The University of Texas at ArlingtonCollege of Nursing and Health Innovation | The University of Texas at Arlington


Touching Lives. Transforming Health Care.

Movement and Physical Activity Epidemiology Laboratory

Lab Director

Dr. Priscila Caçola

Xiangli Gu
Assistant Professor,
Department of Kinesiology


Lab Mission

The mission of Movement and Physical Activity Epidemiology (M&PAE) Laboratory is to improve the health and well-being of children and adolescents through research, education, and community engagement. We seek to develop innovative, interdisciplinary, and theoretically-based methods to optimize fundamental motor skill acquisition, healthy behavior changes and childhood obesity prevention. Graduate students in the lab will be prepared for careers as college professors, researchers, and professionals in relevant areas.

The M&PAE Laboratory is equipped with a variety of activity monitors, skill assessment scales and equipment used for research-related activities such as data collections, intervention, evaluation of the intervention processes and research data analysis. A number of software packages are housed in the laboratory and used for research, teaching and service. These are installed on a network of computers to facilitate data processing and analyses; for example SPSS, SAS, HLM, and SEM for statistical analyses, as well as the software (Endnote, Mendley) for management of scientific references.

The M&PAE Laboratory is equipped with a variety of active video games, activity monitors and equipment including:

  • SmartFITTM
  • Active Video Game systems
  • 1 Smart TV
  • DDR stations
  • Actigraph GT9X+ accelerometers (n = 90)
  • Yamax SW-700/701 Step Digi Walker Pedometer
  • Portable Stadiometer, weight scales, medical scales 
  • 3 Computer workstations and 2 printer/copier/fax
  • Virzoom virtual reality bike
  • Tanita BC-558 Ironman Segmental Body Composition Monitor
  • FITNESSGRAM testing kit
  • TGMD-2 testing kit
  • Skinfold calipers for body composition assessment
  • Stopwatch
  • Portable LCD Projectors
  • Cognitive assessment (Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function®)
Lab Research

Interested in being a research volunteer in our Lab? Please contact Xiaoxia Zhang at or Xiangli Gu at

Relevant Research Topics:

  1. Assessment of skills and movement behaviors (physical activity, sedentary behavior, and sleep) in the laboratory and field settings
  2. Establishing multi-components health disparity interventions based on social ecological model to reduce obesity epidemics and sedentary behaviors
  3. Conducting empirical research on the effects of emerging technology-based physical activity interventions on individuals’ health and movement behaviors
  4. Studying the behavioral and psychosocial mechanisms underlying mental health and quality of Life
  5. Examining the effects of different doses of physical activity on children’s cognition and health
  6. Examining the relationships between children’s motor competence, physical activity, health-related physical fitness, and obesity disparities among minority population
  7. Community-based participatory research program for individual with disabilities (i.e., IDD)
Lab Members

Xiaoxia Zhang
Third-year Doctoral Student

Xiaoxia is originally from Hunan, China. She earned her bachelor's and master's degrees majoring in physical education and athletic training from Shanghai University of Sport. She has had two and half-years of Ph.D. experience in Sport Pedagogy and Motor Behavior at University of North Texas. Xiaoxia’s research agenda focuses on the behavioral and psychosocial mechanisms underlying physical and mental health among school-aged children with and without disabilities. Xiaoxia won the ICSPAH international presentation and TAHPERD national presentation awards in 2016. In addition to academia, she is also a Taichi coach serving for local community members and an international coordinator for a variety of international outreach programs.

Graduate Programs - Join the Lab!

The M&PAE Laboratory is always looking for self-motivated and well-qualified graduate students interested in Motor Behavior and health promotion. Students who are seeking a MS in Exercise Science with a concentration in Motor Behavior and health promotion or a PhD in Kinesiology with a concentration in movement and rehabilitation science may be especially well suited for our lab!

Community Engagement Programs


Taichi is Chinese martial art that is practiced for both defense training and health benefits. It is a popular exercise therapy in hospitals, clinics, as well as community and senior centers around the world. Our lab is developing a community-based Taichi program and will be open for everyone in the Arlington community, including the UTA community. Xiaoxia Zhang, who will serve as program director, has experience presenting Taichi sessions and workshops at various state and national level conferences.

Denton MHMR program - for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (Funded by City of Denton 2017-2018)

Physical activity participation (i.e., strength and balance training and aerobic exercises) is an important strategy for the effective rehabilitation and habilitation for person with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The one-year physical activity intervention program among 31 IDD individuals from the Denton MHMR center was very successful. We noticed that all the participants increased their physical activity engagement (step counts), developed their social skills (i.e., communication skills), and improved their life satisfaction and quality of life throughout the one year program.


The M&PAE Lab facilities are physically located in room 232 of the Maverick Activity Center on the UTA campus.

The M&PAE Lab is part of the Department of Kinesiology in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation at the University of Texas at Arlington.

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