University of Pittsburgh
June 29, 2016

Pitt Faculty to Write Nation’s Physical Activity Guidelines

Two Pitt Professors—John M. Jakicic and Kirk I. Erickson—have been appointed to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Advisory Committee
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PITTSBURGH—Two University of Pittsburgh faculty members will play influential roles in the development of federal recommendations on the amount, intensity, and types of physical activity needed for Americans’ healthy lifestyles.

John M. Jakicic and Kirk I. Erickson have been appointed to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Advisory Committee by U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell. As part of the advisory committee, they will collaborate with 15 other national experts—leaders in the fields of exercise science and public health—to produce the 2018 edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

Based on the latest science in the fields of health, nutrition, and physical activity, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans provide information on how adults and children can improve their health through regular exercise. The guidelines are a nationally recognized resource for health professionals and wellness stockholders. In 2008, the advisory committee issued the first comprehensive guidelines report on physical activity ever produced by the federal government; subsequent reports will be released every 10 years.

“The work of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Advisory Committee is both significant and important for all Americans,” said Jakicic. “The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans can be thought of as a road map, helping doctors and other health professionals in guiding the public on the types and amounts of physical activity that provide optimal long-term health benefits. This will also provide guidance on the amount of physical activity that is specific to prevention and treatment of different health conditions, which is important information for the public.”

“This committee will closely examine scientific evidence on physical activity and determine the amount and type of physical activity that most successfully achieves long-term health benefits across the lifespan,” said Erickson. “The conclusions from this committee could have a long-lasting influence on health care and quality of life for people around the globe.”

Brief biographical information on John M. Jakicic and Kirk I. Erickson follows:

Jakicic is the chair of the Department of Health and Physical Activity in Pitt’s School of Education as well as the director ofDr. John M. Jakicic the University’s Physical Activity and Weight Management Research Center. His research focuses on the relationship between physical activity and long-term health outcomes, including weight management and prevention of chronic medical conditions. Jakicic’s Pitt research center has closely investigated the effects of physical activity on such areas as brain health, cancer, cardiovascular problems, diabetes management, and obesity, among others.

Jakicic has presented his research at prominent conferences and meetings and published nearly 200 scholarly articles. He earned a PhD degree in exercise physiology at the University of Pittsburgh in 1995. He also earned a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education and a Master of Science degree in exercise science from Slippery Rock University.

Erickson is an associate professor of psychology in Pitt’s Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and holds appointments within the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition and Center for Neuroscience. He is associated with the Dr. Kirk I. EricksonClaude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center and Alzheimer Disease Research Center. He also is the director and principal investigator of the Brain Aging and Cognitive Health Lab. Erickson’s research focuses on the effects of physical activity and obesity on brain health and function throughout the lifespan.

Erickson’s work has been honored with Pitt’s Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award. Earlier this year, he was named a fellow of the Academy of Behavioral Medicine as well as a University of Illinois Senior Beckman Fellow in 2014. He also is an issue specialist for the Global Council on Brain Health. Erickson earned a PhD degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2005 and a bachelor’s degree in psychology and philosophy at Marquette University in 1999.