Physical Activity and Exercise Psychology Laboratory



Dr Sami Yli-Piipari 
Lab: FH 158
Office: FH 210
Phone: (901) 678-1794
E-mail: srylppri@memphis.edu

Lab Staff

Cole Fish (Graduate Research Assistant)

Affiliated Faculty

Carol Irwin, Ph.D.
Todd Layne, Ph.D.
Timothy Hnat, Ph.D.

International Collaborators

Jarmo Liukkonen, Ph.D. (Professor, University of Jyvaskyla, Finland)
Timo Jaakkola (Senior Lecturer, Clinical Psychologist, University of Jyvaskyla, Finland)
Tuija Tammelin, Ph.D. (Director of the Research, Foundation for Sport and Health Sciences, Finland),
Vassilis Barkoukis, Ph.D. (Senior Lecturer, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece)
Nikos Chatzisarantis, Ph.D. (Professor, Curtin University, Australia)


Research Focus

Physical Activity and Exercise Psychology Laboratory (PAEP) has a broad focus revolving around motivation and health behaviors (specifically physical activity) across K-12 and exercise settings. Currently, research efforts are supported by several external funding mechanisms. Specifically, the PAEP operates in 4 content areas.

  1. Study (employing a social cognitive perspective) on how social, physiological, behavioral, and psychological factors influence and are influenced by physical activity across the lifespan. Currently, PAEP is implementing a randomized controlled intervention to increase in-school and out-of-school physical activity by helping physical education teachers to be more autonomy-supportive. In addition, PAEP collaborates with the UofM School of Public Health in a 3-year research project to increase school day physical activity.
  2. Study on assessment of free-living physical activity in special populations. Research comprises validation of the new Kinematics Motion Capture System and designing its mHealth applications.
  3. Study on the role of school policies in children's and adolescents' health and academic achievement. Current research efforts include i.e.: (1) an examination of school policies in middle school students' physical activity and fitness and (2) a cross-cultural comparison between the U.S. and Finnish elementary students' objectively measured physical activity during school day.

Current Research Projects

  • Project Diabetes. Timeline. 2013-2016, PI. Ward, K., Co-I. Yli-Piipari, S., Martindale, T., Stockton, M., & Ullman, G. Funded by Tennessee Department of Health.
  • An Autonomy-Supportive Intervention on Physical Education Motivation and Physical Activity Timeline: 2013-2014, PI: Yli-Piipari, S., Co-I: Layne, T. & Irwin, C. Funded by AAHPERD.
  • Grizzlies Family Fitness Challenge Timeline 2012-2014. PI: Chambliss, H., Co-I: Layne, T., Yli-Piipari, S., & Irwin, C. Funded by Memphis Grizzlies.
  • Validation of a New Physical Activity Monitor: The Kinematics Motion Capture System. Timeline 2012-2014, PI: Hnat, T. & Yli-Piipari, S.
  • Elementary Students’ Objectively Measured Physical Activity During School Day: A Cross-Cultural Comparison Between the U.S. and Finland. Timeline: 2013-2014, PI: Yli-Piipari, S., Co-I: Jaakkola, T., & Tammelin T.
  • Examining the Role of Schools in the Urban Elementary School Students’ Physical Activity and Fitness Timeline: 2012-2013, PI: Yli-Piipari, S., Co-I: Layne, T. & Irwin, C.
  • The Development of Students’ Physical Education Motivation and Physical Activity: A Longitudinal Study Timeline: 2007-2014, PI: Yli-Piipari, S. & Liukkonen, J., Co-I: Grasten, A, (Ph.D. student), & Jaakkola, T. Funded by Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture.
  • The Role of Motivation Climate in Physical Education Students’ Behavior, Cognition, and Affect Timeline: 2009-2011, PI: Yli-Piipari, S., Co-I: Barkoukis, V., Jaakkola, T., & Liukkonen, J.

Research Opportunities

Physical Activity and Exercise Psychology Laboratory under Dr. Yli-Piipari's leadership is happy support your research aspirations by supervising independent studies and providing volunteering opportunities. We are operating in the area of physical activity and exercise motivation. Please contact Dr. Yli-Piipari for more specific research opportunities.

Laboratory Resources

Physical Activity and Fitness Assessment Tools

  • Actigraph GT3X accelerometers
  • NL-1000 pedometers
  • Polar Heart Rate Monitors (FT60Ms)
  • Polar Cardio GX 2.0 system
  • FITNESSGRAM testing kit
  • Skinfolds

Observations Tools

  • Digital cameras
  • Micro-cassette transcribers


  • Mplus
  • HLM
  • NVivo