Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

David R. Bassett, Jr., PhD



Professor and Department Head
Exercise Physiology
HPER 328



David Bassett’s primary research area is the measurement of physical activity and energy expenditure in humans, using objective methods. He and his colleagues study the validity and reliability of pedometers, activity monitors, and fitness trackers, with a particular focus on standardizing daily step counts. In some of these studies, direct observation of steps and a digital hand-tally device are used as the gold standard.  In others, a GoPro camera mounted to a chest harness and pointed down at the feet, has allowed the quantification of steps in the free-living environment. Bassett and his co-workers conduct research on walking in various populations. They have collected data on groups ranging from school children to sedentary, middle-aged adults to Amish farmers. They are exploring the relationships of ambulatory physical activity to body weight, blood pressure, blood lipids, and other cardiovascular risk factors.  A number of their studies have shown the benefits of walking for weight control, blood pressure, and glucose tolerance.

Bassett has co-authored papers on maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) with Edward Howley.  They published a review paper on criteria for attainment of maximal oxygen uptake, and two reviews on the determinants of maximal oxygen uptake, and the role of this variable in determining performance in distance running.  In 2000, Bassett traveled to Cambridge University to access materials stored in the Churchill Archives, and wrote a historical piece on the scientific contributions of A.V. Hill, a Nobel Prize winner who did pioneering work in exercise physiology.

Bassett has collaborated with researchers in the transportation policy and planning field to publish a study on walking, cycling, and obesity rates in fifteen countries on three continents.  They reported that Europeans walked and cycled more than North Americans and Australians, and that levels of active transportation were inversely related to obesity rates in these countries. Currently, he and his colleagues are studying relationships between physical activity and obesity using state-level data within the US.


PhD University of Wisconsin, Madison Physical Education & Dance
MS Ball State University Exercise Physiology
BS Oberlin College Biology

Bassett directs the Applied Physiology Laboratory at the University of Tennessee. He has served on the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) board of trustees and the science advisory board of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition. He is the chair of ACSM’s ActivEarth task force that promotes the benefits of active travel for health, the environment, and the economy.  He also serves on the editorial board of two journals (Journal of Physical Activity and Health and Journal for the Measurement of Physical Behaviors).

Bassett DR, John D, Conger SA, Fitzhugh EC, Coe DP.  Trends in physical activity and sedentary behaviors of U.S. youth. J Phys Act Health. 2014 Oct 27.

Wolff-Hughes DL, Bassett, DR, Fitzhugh EC. Population-referenced percentiles for waist-worn accelerometer-derived total activity counts in U.S. youth: 2003 – 2006 NHANES.  PLoS One. 2014 Dec 22;9(12):e115915.

Wolff DL, Fitzhugh EC, Bassett DR, Churilla JR. Total activity counts and bouted minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity: Relationships with biomarkers using 2003-2006 NHANES.  J Phys Act Health 12(5):694-700, 2015.

McMurray RG, Butte NF, Crouter SE, Trost SG, Pfeiffer KA, Bassett DR, Puyau MR, Berrigan D, Watson KB, Fulton JE; CDC/NCI/NCCOR Research Group on Energy Expenditure in Children.  Exploring Metrics to Express Energy Expenditure of Physical Activity in Youth.  PLoS One. 2015 Jun 23;10(6):e0130869.

Monroe CM, Thompson DL, Bassett DR, Fitzhugh EC, Raynor HA.  Usability of Mobile Phones in Physical Activity–Related Research: A Systematic Review, American Journal of Health Education, 46(4):196-206, 2015.

John D, Lyden K, and Bassett DR. A physiological perspective on treadmill and sit-to-stand workstations. Ergonomics in Design. 23(3), 14-19, 2015. doi:10.1177/1064804615585411

Chandler JL, Flynn JI, Bassett DR, Aaron K, Walsh J, Manuel K, Fernandez R, Epperson B, Zavisca E.  A community-based after-school program to promote bicycling skills and knowledge: Kids Can Bike!  J Park Rec Admin 33(4):90-99, 2015.

Conger SA, Guo J, Fulkerson SM, Pedigo L, Chen H, and Bassett DR.  Objective assessment of strength training exercises using a wrist-worn accelerometer. Med Sci Sports Exerc 48(9):1847-55, 2016.  doi:10.1249/MSS.0000000000000949

Schneider PL, Bassett DR, Rider B, Saunder S.  Physical activity and motivating factors of participants in a financially incentivized worksite wellness program.  Int J Health Promot Educ.  54:6, 295-303, 2016.  doi:10.1080/14635240.2016.1174951

Steeves JA, Bassett DR, Fitzhugh EC, Raynor H, Cho C, Thompson DL. Physical activity with and without TV viewing: effects on enjoyment of physical activity and TV, exercise self-efficacy, and barriers to being active in overweight adults.  J Phys Act Health 13(4):385-91, 2016.  doi:10.1123/jpah.2015-0108

Rider BC, Bassett DR, Strohacker K, Overstreet BS, Fitzhugh EC, Raynor HA.  Psycho-physiological effects of television viewing during exercise.  J Sports Sci Med. 2016 Aug 5;15(3):524-531. Retrieved from

Toth LP, Bassett DR, Crouter SE, Overstreet BS, LaMunion SR, Park S, Notta SN, Springer CM.  StepWatch accuracy during walking, running, and intermittent activities. Gait & Posture. 2016 Nov 21;52:165-170. doi:10.1016/j.gaitpost.2016.11.035

Boyer WR, Wolff-Hughes DL, Bassett DR, Churilla JR, Fitzhugh EC. Accelerometer-derived total activity counts, bouted minutes of moderate to vigorous activity, and insulin resistance: NHANES 2003-2006. Prev Chronic Dis Oct 20; 13:E146, 2016.  doi:10.5888/pcd13.160159

Monroe CM, Thompson DL, Bassett DR, Fitzhugh EC, Raynor HA.  Effect of adding online social support tools to an adult walking program: randomized controlled trial.  Health Promotion Practice. 18(1):84-92 2017. doi:10.1177/1524839915626674

Woodman JA, Crouter SE, Bassett DR, Fitzhugh EC, and Boyer WR.  Accuracy of consumer monitors for estimating energy expenditure and activity type.  Med Sci Sports Exerc 49(2):371-7, 2017. doi:10.1249/MSS.0000000000001090

Bassett DR, Toth LP, LaMunion SR, and Crouter SE.  Step Counting: Measurement Considerations and Health Implications. Sports Med. 47(7), 1303-1315, 2017. doi:10.1007/s40279-016-0663-1

Chomistek AK, Yuan C, Matthews CE, Troiano RP, Rood J, Barnett JB, Willett WC, Rimm EB, Bassett DR.  Physical Activity Assessment with Waist-Worn ActiGraph GT3X and Doubly Labeled Water: A Comparison Study.   Med Sci Sports Exerc 2017 Apr 18. doi:10.1249/MSS.0000000000001299

Langford BC, Cherry CR, Bassett DR, Fitzhugh EC, Dhakal N. Comparing physical activity of pedal-assist electric bikes with walking and conventional bicycles. Journal of Transport and Health, 2017. doi:10.1016/j.jth.2017.06.002

Overstreet BS, Bassett DR, Crouter SE, Rider BC, Parr BB.  Portable open-circuit spirometry systems: a review.  J Sports Med Phys Fitness 57(3):227-37, 2017.  doi: 10.23736/S0022-4707.16.06049-7

Butte NF, Ridley K, Watson KB, Zakeri IF, McMurray RG, Pfeiffer KA, Crouter SE, Herrmann SD, Bassett DR, Long A, Zekarias B, Trost SG, Ainsworth BE, Berrigan D, Fulton JE. Youth Compendium of Physical Activities: Activity Codes and Intensities, Med Sci Sports Exerc.  2017. Epub ahead of print. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001430