Past Hilliard Discussion Scholars

Dr. David Bassett | 2018 Hilliard Discussion Scholar

Dr. David Bassett | 2018 Hilliard Discussion Scholar

Dr. David Bassett

Dept. Head - Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport Studies, University of Tennessee - Knoxville 

Physiology of Athletes: Exploring the Limits of Human Performance

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.


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