Dori Rosenberg, PhD, MPH, has conducted extensive research into physical activity and sedentary time, with a central focus on older adults and people with chronic conditions, who often face substantial barriers to engaging in physical activity. Dr. Rosenberg has a particular interest in helping to build an evidence base for the health effects of sedentary time, given that the vast majority of people’s waking hours are spent sitting, yet we are only starting to understand how this impacts health.
Dr. Rosenberg currently leads the Healthy Aging Resources to Thrive (HART) Trial. HART is testing the effects of sitting reduction on cardiovascular and metabolic health outcomes through a large randomized controlled trial. Dr. Rosenberg also leads the accelerometer sub-study of the Adult Changes in Thought (ACT) cohort study where she is examining how 24-hour activity cycle behaviors (sedentary time, physical activity, sleep) are associated with cognition and physical function in older adults.
A key step in better understanding sedentary behaviors is having validated measures. Dr. Rosenberg validated the widely used Sedentary Behavior Questionnaire, which is a self-reported measure of sedentary time (see below to learn more). She has also contributed to studies on sedentary behavior measurement with accelerometers, including machine learning approaches.
As part of her epidemiologic research, Dr. Rosenberg investigates how aspects of the built environment — such as parks, open space, and sidewalks — encourage better health, particularly as we age. Further, she is interested in the ways social determinants of health in early life, including the neighborhood environment, impact cognitive and physical aging and is exploring this in the ACT cohort.
In her intervention research, Dr. Rosenberg employs mobile health approaches to promoting physical activity and reducing sedentary time, including in a recent micro-randomized trial for physical activity after bariatric surgery. She is currently working with colleagues on piloting a mobile health application for mindfulness and acceptance to support healthy eating and physical activity.
Dr. Rosenberg serves on a subcommittee of the President's Council on Sports, Fitness, & Nutrition to inform the development of the Physical Activity Guidelines Midcourse Report on older adults. She is also past co-chair of the Physical Activity Special Interest Group at the Society of Behavioral Medicine. Additionally, she is an associate professor in the Health Systems Science Department of the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine, affiliate associate professor in the Department of Health Services at the University of Washington School of Public Health, and a fellow of the Society of Behavioral Medicine.
The following tools are available for free download and use.
Sedentary Behavior Questionnaire: This is a self-reported measure of sedentary time, taking into account sedentary behaviors on weekdays and weekends. It has been used widely in research studies across the globe to describe sedentary behavior and track changes in sedentary time.
Walking Route Audit Tool for Seniors (WRATS): WRATS is an audit tool for identifying the best walking routes for older adults. The tool includes 59 items relating to functionality, safety, aesthetics, and destinations, among other domains. Most domains are measured using a 3-point scale. The tool can be used by the general public as well as by researchers.
Physical activity, sedentary behavior, nutrition, lifestyle interventions, technology applications, built environment
Changes to health behaviors, including sedentary behavior, physical activity, and nutrition; role of built environment; promotion of physical function and mobility; fall prevention; cognitive function; Alzheimer's disease prevention
Obesity prevention and control; physical activity and nutrition promotion; role of sedentary behaviors; role of built environment; acceptance and mindfulness interventions for weight management; mobile health interventions
Prevention of further disease, declines in function, and disability; self-management; fall prevention
Health behavior change, fall prevention, Alzheimer’s disease prevention
Mobile health interventions for weight, physical activity, diet, and sedentary time; accelerometers (e.g., Fitbit, ActiGraph, activPAL) for measurement and intervention
Carlson JA, Tuz-Zahra F, Bellettiere J, Ridgers ND, Steel CL, Bejarano CM, LaCroix A, Rosenberg DE, Greenwood-Hickman MA, Natarajan L. Validity of two awake wear time classification algorithms for activPAL in youth, adults, and older adults. J Meas Phys Behav. 2021;4(2):151-162. doi: 10.1123/jmpb.2020-0045. Epub 2021 Apr 22. PubMed
Walker RL, Greenwood-Hickman MA, Bellettiere J, LaCroix AZ, Wing D, Higgins M, Richmire K, Larson EB, Crane PK, Rosenberg DE. Associations between physical function and device-based measures of physical activity and sedentary behavior patterns in older adults: moving beyond moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity. BMC Geriatr. 2021 Mar 31;21(1):216. doi: 10.1186/s12877-021-02163-4. PubMed
Nakandala S, Jankowska MM, Tuz-Zahra F, Bellettiere J, Carlson J, LaCroix AZ, Hartman SJ, Rosenberg D, Zou J, Kumar A, Natarajan L. Application of convolutional neural network algorithms for advancing sedentary and activity bout classification. J Meas Phys Behav. 2021 Jun;4(2):102-110. doi: 10.1123/jmpb.2020-0016. Epub 2021 Feb 25. PubMed
Bellettiere J, Tuz-Zahra F, Carlson J, Ridgers ND, Liles S, Greenwood-Hickman MA, Walker RL, LaCroix AZ, Jankowska MM, Rosenberg DE, Natarajan L. Agreement of sedentary behaviour metrics derived from hip-worn and thigh-worn accelerometers among older adults: with implications for studying physical and cognitive health. J Meas Phys Behav. 4(1), 79-88. https://doi.org/10.1123/jmpb.2020-0036.
Sangameswaran S, Segal C, Rosenberg DE, Casanova-Perez R, Cronkite D, Gore JL, Hartzler AL. Design of digital walking programs that engage prostate cancer survivors: needs and preferences from focus groups. AMIA Annu Symp Proc. 2022 Feb 21;2021:1069-1078. eCollection 2021. PubMed
Outstanding mentorship — emphasizing equity and inclusion — was recognized.
Dr. Dori Rosenberg discusses her work on a new Cochrane review looking at ways to help older adults be less sedentary.
New research suggests fast food and other aspects of built environments don’t affect weight, contrary to earlier findings.
Take these tips from researchers on the Society of Behavioral Medicine’s Physical Activity Special Interest Group.